Classic Poetry Series

Robert Browning
- poems -

Publication Date: 2004

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Robert Browning (1812-1889)

The son of Robert Browning, a Bank of England clerk, and Sarah Anna Wiedemann, of Scottish-German descent, Browning received little formal education. His learning was gleaned mainly from his Father's library at home in Camberwell, South London, where he learnt something, with his Father's help, of Latin and Greek and also read Shelly, Byron and Keats. Though he attended lectures at the University of London in 1828, Browning left after only one session.

Apart from a visit to St Petersburg in 1834 and two visits to Italy in 1838 and 1844, Browning lived with his parents in London until his marriage of 1846. It was during this period that most of the plays and the earlier poems were written and, excepting Strafford, published at his family's expense. After the secretly held marriage to Elizabeth Barrett in 1846, Browning and wife travelled to Italy where they were, apart from brief holidays in France and England, to spend most of their married life together. In 1849 the couple had a son, Robert 'Pen' Browning, and it was Elizabeth who, during this time, was most productive. After her death in 1861, Browning returned to England with his son, where he achieved popular acclaim for his Dramatis Personae and The Ring and the Book. He spent the remainder of his life, excepting holidays in France, Scotland, Italy and Switzerland, in London where he wrote a number of dramatic poems, the two series of Dramatic Idylls (1879,1880) and poems on primarily classical subjects: Balaustion's Adventure (1871) and Aristophone's Apology (1875). He died in Venice whilst holidaying in 1889 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

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"Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes" Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes Of labdanum, and aloe-balls, Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes From out her hair: such balsam falls Down sea-side mountain pedestals, From tree-tops where tired winds are fain, Spent with the vast and howling main, To treasure half their island-gain. And strew faint sweetness from some old Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud Which breaks to dust when once unrolled; Or shredded perfume, like a cloud From closet long to quiet vowed, With mothed and dropping arras hung, Mouldering her lute and books among, As when a queen, long dead, was young. Robert Browning

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A Grammarian's Funeral SHORTLY AFTER THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING IN EUROPE.

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Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft, Safe from the weather! He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft, Singing together, He was a man born with thy face and throat, Lyric Apollo! Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note Winter would follow? Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone! Cramped and diminished, Moaned he, ``New measures, other feet anon! ``My dance is finished?'' No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side, Make for the city!) He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride Over men's pity; Left play for work, and grappled with the world Bent on escaping: ``What's in the scroll,'' quoth he, ``thou keepest furled? ``Show me their shaping,

Let us begin and carry up this corpse, Singing together. Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes Each in its tether Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain, Cared-for till cock-crow: Look out if yonder be not day again Rimming the rock-row! That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought, Rarer, intenser, Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought, Chafes in the censer. Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop; Seek we sepulture On a tall mountain, citied to the top, Crowded with culture! All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels; Clouds overcome it; No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's Circling its summit. Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights: Wait ye the warning? Our low life was the level's and the night's; He's for the morning. Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head, 'Ware the beholders! This is our master, famous calm and dead, Borne on our shoulders.

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(Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place Gaping before us.) Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace (Hearten our chorus!) That before living he'd learn how to live--No end to learning: Earn the means first---God surely will contrive Use for our earning. Others mistrust and say, ``But time escapes: ``Live now or never!'' He said, ``What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! ``Man has Forever.'' Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head _Calculus_ racked him: Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead: _Tussis_ attacked him. ``Now, master, take a little rest!''---not he! (Caution redoubled, Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!) Not a whit troubled Back to his studies, fresher than at first, Fierce as a dragon He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst) Sucked at the flagon. Oh, if we draw a circle premature, Heedless of far gain,

``Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,--``Give!''---So, he gowned him, Straight got by heart that hook to its last page: Learned, we found him. Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead, Accents uncertain: ``Time to taste life,'' another would have said, ``Up with the curtain!'' This man said rather, ``Actual life comes next? ``Patience a moment! ``Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text, ``Still there's the comment. ``Let me know all! Prate not of most or least, ``Painful or easy! ``Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast, ``Ay, nor feel queasy.'' Oh, such a life as he resolved to live, When he had learned it, When he had gathered all books had to give! Sooner, he spurned it. Image the whole, then execute the parts--Fancy the fabric Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz, Ere mortar dab brick!

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Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure Bad is our bargain! Was it not great? did not he throw on God, (He loves the burthen)--God's task to make the heavenly period Perfect the earthen? Did not he magnify the mind, show clear Just what it all meant? He would not discount life, as fools do here, Paid by instalment. He ventured neck or nothing---heaven's success Found, or earth's failure: ``Wilt thou trust death or not?'' He answered ``Yes: ``Hence with life's pale lure!'' That low man seeks a little thing to do, Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue, Dies ere he knows it. That low man goes on adding nine to one, His hundred's soon hit: This high man, aiming at a million, Misses an unit. That, has the world here---should he need the next, Let the world mind him! This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed Seeking shall find him. So, with the throttling hands of death at strife, Ground he at grammar; Still, thro' the rattle, parts of speech were rife: While he could stammer He settled _Hoti's_ business---let it be!--Properly based _Oun_--Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic _De_, Dead from the waist down. Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place: Hail to your purlieus, All ye highfliers of the feathered race, Swallows and curlews! Here's the top-peak; the multitude below Live, for they can, there: This man decided not to Live but Know--Bury this man there? Here---here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, Lightnings are loosened, Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm, Peace let the dew send! Lofty designs must close in like effects Loftily lying, Leave him---still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.
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Robert Browning

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A Grammarian's Funeral Shortly after the Revival of Learnin Let us begin and carry up this corpse, Singing together. Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes Each in its tether Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain, Cared-for till cock-crow: Look out if yonder be not day again Rimming the rock-row! That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought, Rarer, intenser, Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought, Chafes in the censer. Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop; Seek we sepulture On a tall mountain, citied to the top, Crowded with culture! All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels; Clouds overcome it; No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's Circling its summit. Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights: Wait ye the warning? Our low life was the level's and the night's; He's for the morning. Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head, 'Ware the beholders! This is our master, famous, calm and dead, Borne on our shoulders.

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Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft, Safe from the weather! He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft, Singing together, He was a man born with thy face and throat, Lyric Apollo! Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note Winter would follow? Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone! Cramped and diminished, Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon! My dance is finished"? No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side, Make for the city!) He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride Over men's pity; Left play for work, and grappled with the world Bent on escaping: "What's in the scroll," quoth he, "thou keepest furled Show me their shaping, Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,-Give!"--So, he gowned him, Straight got by heart that book to its last page:

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Learned, we found him. Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead, Accents uncertain: "Time to taste life," another would have said, "Up with the curtain!" This man said rather, "Actual life comes next? Patience a moment! Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text, Still there's the comment. Let me know all! Prate not of most or least, Painful or easy! Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast, Ay, nor feel queasy." Oh, such a life as he resolved to live, When he had learned it, When he had gathered all books had to give! Sooner, he spurned it. Image the whole, then execute the parts-Fancy the fabric Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz, Ere mortar dab brick!

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(Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place Gaping before us.) Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace (Hearten our chorus!) That before living he'd learn how to live-No end to learning: Earn the means first--God surely will contrive Use for our earning. Others mistrust and say, "But time escapes: Live now or never!" He said, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! Man has Forever." Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head: Calculus racked him: Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead: Tussis attacked him. "Now, master, take a little rest!"--not he! (Caution redoubled Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!) Not a whit troubled, Back to his studies, fresher than at first, Fierce as a dragon He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst) Sucked at the flagon. Oh, if we draw a circle premature, Heedless of far gain, Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure Bad is our bargain! Was it not great? did not he throw on God, (He loves the burthen)--

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Robert Browning

God's task to make the heavenly period Perfect the earthen? Did not he magnify the mind, show clear Just what it all meant? He would not discount life, as fools do here, Paid by instalment. He ventured neck or nothing--heaven's success Found, or earth's failure: "Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes: Hence with life's pale lure!" That low man seeks a little thing to do, Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue, Dies ere he knows it. That low man goes on adding one to one, His hundred's soon hit: This high man, aiming at a million, Misses an unit. That, has the world here--should he need the next, Let the world mind him! This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed Seeking shall find him. So, with the throttling hands of death at strife, Ground he at grammar; Still, thro' the rattle, parts of speech were rife: While he could stammer He settled Hoti's business--let it be!-Properly based Oun-Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De, Dead from the waist down. Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place: Hail to your purlieus, All ye highfliers of the feathered race, Swallows and curlews! Here's the top-peak; the multitude below Live, for they can, there: This man decided not to Live but Know-Bury this man there? Here--here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, Lightnings are loosened, Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm, Peace let the dew send! Lofty designs must close in like effects: Loftily lying, Leave him--still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.

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A Light Woman I. So far as our story approaches the end, Which do you pity the most of us three?--My friend, or the mistress of my friend With her wanton eyes, or me? My friend was already too good to lose, And seemed in the way of improvement yet, When she crossed his path with her hunting-noose And over him drew her net. When I saw him tangled in her toils, A shame, said I, if she adds just him To her nine-and-ninety other spoils, The hundredth for a whim! And before my friend be wholly hers, How easy to prove to him, I said, An eagle's the game her pride prefers, Though she snaps at a wren instead! So, I gave her eyes my own eyes to take, My hand sought hers as in earnest need, And round she turned for my noble sake, And gave me herself indeed. The eagle am I, with my fame in the world, The wren is he, with his maiden face. ---You look away and your lip is curled? Patience, a moment's space! For see, my friend goes shaling and white; He eyes me as the basilisk: I have turned, it appears, his day to night, Eclipsing his sun's disk. And I did it, he thinks, as a very thief: VIII. VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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``Though I love her---that, he comprehends--``One should master one's passions, (love, in chief) ``And be loyal to one's friends!'' And she,---she lies in my hand as tame As a pear late basking over a wall; Just a touch to try and off it came; 'Tis mine,---can I let it fall? With no mind to eat it, that's the worst! Were it thrown in the road, would the case assist? 'Twas quenching a dozen blue-flies' thirst When I gave its stalk a twist. And I,---what I seem to my friend, you see: What I soon shall seem to his love, you guess: What I seem to myself, do you ask of me? No hero, I confess. 'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls, And matter enough to save one's own: Yet think of my friend, and the burning coals He played with for bits of stone! One likes to show the truth for the truth; That the woman was light is very true: But suppose she says,---Never mind that youth! What wrong have I done to you? Well, any how, here the story stays, So far at least as I understand; And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays, Here's a subject made to your hand! Robert Browning XIV. XIII. XII. XI. X. IX.

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A Lovers' Quarrel I. Oh, what a dawn of day! How the March sun feels like May! All is blue again After last night's rain, And the South dries the hawthorn-spray. Only, my Love's away! I'd as lief that the blue were grey, II.

Runnels, which rillets swell, Must be dancing down the dell, With a foaming head On the beryl bed Paven smooth as a hermit's cell; Each with a tale to tell, Could my Love but attend as well. Dearest, three months ago! When we lived blocked-up with snow,--When the wind would edge In and in his wedge, In, as far as the point could go--Not to our ingle, though, Where we loved each the other so! Laughs with so little cause! We devised games out of straws. We would try and trace One another's face In the ash, as an artist draws; Free on each other's flaws, How we chattered like two church daws! What's in the `Times''?---a scold At the Emperor deep and cold; He has taken a bride To his gruesome side, That's as fair as himself is bold: There they sit ermine-stoled, And she powders her hair with gold. VI. V. IV. III.

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Fancy the Pampas' sheen! Miles and miles of gold and green Where the sunflowers blow In a solid glow, And---to break now and then the screen--Black neck and eyeballs keen, Up a wild horse leaps between! Try, will our table turn? Lay your hands there light, and yearn Till the yearning slips Thro' the finger-tips In a fire which a few discern, And a very few feel burn, And the rest, they may live and learn! Then we would up and pace, For a change, about the place, Each with arm o'er neck: 'Tis our quarter-deck, We are seamen in woeful case. Help in the ocean-space! Or, if no help, we'll embrace. See, how she looks now, dressed In a sledging-cap and vest! 'Tis a huge fur cloak--Like a reindeer's yoke Falls the lappet along the breast: Sleeves for her arms to rest, Or to hang, as my Love likes best. Teach me to flirt a fan As the Spanish ladies can, Or I tint your lip With a burnt stick's tip And you turn into such a man! Just the two spots that span Half the bill of the young male swan. Dearest, three months ago When the mesmerizer Snow XI. X. IX. VIII. VII.

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With his hand's first sweep Put the earth to sleep: 'Twas a time when the heart could show All---how was earth to know, 'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro? Dearest, three months ago When we loved each other so, Lived and loved the same Till an evening came When a shaft from the devil's bow Pierced to our ingle-glow, And the friends were friend and foe! Not from the heart beneath--'Twas a bubble born of breath, Neither sneer nor vaunt, Nor reproach nor taunt. See a word, how it severeth! Oh, power of life and death In the tongue, as the Preacher saith! Woman, and will you cast For a word, quite off at last Me, your own, your You,--Since, as truth is true, I was You all the happy past--Me do you leave aghast With the memories We amassed? Love, if you knew the light That your soul casts in my sight, How I look to you For the pure and true And the beauteous and the right,--Bear with a moment's spite When a mere mote threats the white! What of a hasty word? Is the fleshly heart not stirred By a worm's pin-prick Where its roots are quick? XVI. XV. XIV. XIII. XII.

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See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred--Ear, when a straw is heard Scratch the brain's coat of curd! Foul be the world or fair More or less, how can I care? 'Tis the world the same For my praise or blame, And endurance is easy there. Wrong in the one thing rare--Oh, it is hard to bear! Here's the spring back or close, When the almond-blossom blows: We shall have the word In a minor third There is none but the cuckoo knows: Heaps of the guelder-rose! I must bear with it, I suppose. Could but November come, Were the noisy birds struck dumb At the warning slash Of his driver's-lash--I would laugh like the valiant Thumb Facing the castle glum And the giant's fee-faw-fum! Then, were the world well stripped Of the gear wherein equipped We can stand apart, Heart dispense with heart In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,--Oh, the world's hangings ripped, We were both in a bare-walled crypt! Each in the crypt would cry ``But one freezes here! and why? ``When a heart, as chill, ``At my own would thrill ``Back to life, and its fires out-fly? ``Heart, shall we live or die? XXI. XX. XIX. XVIII. XVII.

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``The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!'' So, she'd efface the score, And forgive me as before. It is twelve o'clock: I shall hear her knock In the worst of a storm's uproar, I shall pull her through the door, I shall have her for evermore! Robert Browning XXII.

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A Pretty Woman I. That fawn-skin-dappled hair of hers, And the blue eye Dear and dewy, And that infantine fresh air of hers! To think men cannot take you, Sweet, And enfold you, Ay, and hold you, And so keep you what they make you, Sweet! You like us for a glance, you know--For a word's sake Or a sword's sake, All's the same, whate'er the chance, you know. And in turn we make you ours, we say--You and youth too, Eyes and mouth too, All the face composed of flowers, we say. All's our own, to make the most of, Sweet--Sing and say for, Watch and pray for, Keep a secret or go boast of, Sweet! But for loving, why, you would not, Sweet, Though we prayed you, Paid you, brayed you in a mortar---for you could not, Sweet! So, we leave the sweet face fondly there: Be its beauty Its sole duty! Let all hope of grace beyond, lie there! And while the face lies quiet there, VIII. VII. VI. V. IV. III II.

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Who shall wonder That I ponder A conclusion? I will try it there. As,---why must one, for the love foregone, Scout mere liking? Thunder-striking Earth,---the heaven, we looked above for, gone! Why, with beauty, needs there money be, Love with liking? Crush the fly-king In his gauze, because no honey-bee? May not liking be so simple-sweet, If love grew there 'Twould undo there All that breaks the cheek to dimples sweet? Is the creature too imperfect, Would you mend it And so end it? Since not all addition perfects aye! Or is it of its kind, perhaps, Just perfection--Whence, rejection Of a grace not to its mind, perhaps? Shall we burn up, tread that face at once Into tinder, And so hinder Sparks from kindling all the place at once? Or else kiss away one's soul on her? Your love-fancies! ---A sick man sees Truer, when his hot eyes roll on her! XV. XIV. XIII. XII. XI. X. IX.

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Thus the craftsman thinks to grace the rose,--Plucks a mould-flower For his gold flower, Uses fine things that efface the rose: Rosy rubies make its cup more rose, Precious metals Ape the petals,--Last, some old king locks it up, morose! Then how grace a rose? I know a way! Leave it, rather. Must you gather? Smell, kiss, wear it---at last, throw away! Robert Browning XVIII. XVII.

XVI.

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A Serenade At The Villa I. That was I, you heard last night, When there rose no moon at all, Nor, to pierce the strained and tight Tent of heaven, a planet small: Life was dead and so was light. Not a twinkle from the fly, Not a glimmer from the worm; When the crickets stopped their cry, When the owls forbore a term, You heard music; that was I. Earth turned in her sleep with pain, Sultrily suspired for proof: In at heaven and out again, Lightning!---where it broke the roof, Bloodlike, some few drops of rain. What they could my words expressed, O my love, my all, my one! Singing helped the verses best, And when singing's best was done, To my lute I left the rest. So wore night; the East was gray, White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers: There would be another day; Ere its first of heavy hours Found me, I had passed away. What became of all the hopes, Words and song and lute as well? Say, this struck you---``When life gropes ``Feebly for the path where fell ``Light last on the evening slopes, ``One friend in that path shall be, ``To secure my step from wrong; VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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``One to count night day for me, ``Patient through the watches long, ``Serving most with none to see.'' Never say---as something bodes--``So, the worst has yet a worse! ``When life halts 'neath double loads, ``Better the taskmaster's curse ``Than such music on the roads! ``When no moon succeeds the sun, ``Nor can pierce the midnight's tent ``Any star, the smallest one, ``While some drops, where lightning rent, ``Show the final storm begun--``When the fire-fly hides its spot, ``When the garden-voices fail ``In the darkness thick and hot,--``Shall another voice avail, ``That shape be where these are not? ``Has some plague a longer lease, ``Proffering its help uncouth? ``Can't one even die in peace? ``As one shuts one's eyes on youth, ``Is that face the last one sees?'' Oh how dark your villa was, Windows fast and obdurate! How the garden grudged me grass Where I stood---the iron gate Ground its teeth to let me pass! Robert Browning XII. XI. X. IX. VIII.

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A Toccata Of Galuppi's I. Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find! I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind; But although I take your meaning, 'tis with such a heavy mind! Here you come with all your music, and here's all the good it brings. What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings, Where Saint Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings? Ay, because the sea's the street there; and 'tis arched by ... what you call ... Shylock's bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival: I was never out of England---it's as if I saw it all. Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in May? Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day, When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say? Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red,--On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed, O'er the breast's superb abundance where a man might base his head? Well, and it was graceful of them---they'd break talk off and afford ---She, to bite her mask's black velvet---he, to finger on his sword, While you sat and played Toccatas, stately at the clavichord? VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on sigh, Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions---``Must we die?'' Those commiserating sevenths---``Life might last! we can but try!'' ``Were you happy?''---``Yes.''---``And are you still as happy?''---``Yes. And you?'' ---``Then, more kisses!''---``Did _I_ stop them, when a million seemed so few?'' Hark, the dominant's persistence till it must be answered to! So, an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare say! IX. VIII.

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``Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay! ``I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!'' Then they left you for their pleasure: till in due time, one by one, Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone, Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun. But when I sit down to reason, think to take my stand nor swerve, While I triumph o'er a secret wrung from nature's close reserve, In you come with your cold music till I creep thro' every nerve. Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned: ``Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned. ``The soul, doubtless, is immortal---where a soul can be discerned. ``Yours for instance: you know physics, something of geology, ``Mathematics are your pastime; souls shall rise in their degree; ``Butterflies may dread extinction,---you'll not die, it cannot be! ``As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop, ``Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop: ``What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop? ``Dust and ashes!'' So you creak it, and I want the heart to scold. Dear dead women, with such hair, too---what's become of all the gold Used to hang and brush their bosoms? I feel chilly and grown old. * 1. An overture---a touch piece. Robert Browning XV. XIV. XIII. XII. XI. X.

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A Woman's Last Word I. Let's contend no more, Love, Strive nor weep: All be as before, Love, ---Only sleep! What so wild as words are? I and thou In debate, as birds are, Hawk on bough! See the creature stalking While we speak! Hush and hide the talking, Cheek on cheek! What so false as truth is, False to thee? Where the serpent's tooth is Shun the tree--Where the apple reddens Never pry--Lest we lose our Edens, Eve and I. Be a god and hold me With a charm! Be a man and fold me With thine arm! Teach me, only teach, Love As I ought I will speak thy speech, Love, Think thy thought--Meet, if thou require it, VIII. VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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Both demands, Laying flesh and spirit In thy hands. That shall be to-morrow Not to-night: I must bury sorrow Out of sight: ---Must a little weep, Love, (Foolish me!) And so fall asleep, Love, Loved by thee. Robert Browning X IX.

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Abt Vogler Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build, Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work, Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk, Man, brute, reptile, fly,--alien of end and of aim, Adverse, each from the other heaven-high, hell-deep removed,-Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name, And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!

Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine, This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise! Ah, one and all, how they helped, would dispart now and now combine, Zealous to hasten the work, heighten their master his praise! And one would bury his brow with a blind plunge down to hell, Burrow awhile and build, broad on the roots of things, Then up again swim into sight, having based me my palace well, Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs.

And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was, Ay, another and yet another, one crowd but with many a crest, Raising my rampired walls of gold as transparent as glass, Eager to do and die, yield each his place to the rest: For higher still and higher (as a runner tips with fire, When a great illumination surprises a festal night-Outlining round and round Rome's dome from space to spire) Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and the pride of my soul was in sight. In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match man's birth, Nature in turn conceived, obeying an impulse as I; And the emulous heaven yearned down, made effort to reach the earth, As the earth had done her best, in my passion, to scale the sky: Novel splendours burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine, Not a point nor peak but found and fixed its wandering star; Meteor-moons, balls of blaze: and they did not pale nor pine, For earth had attained to heaven, there was no more near nor far.

Nay more; for there wanted not who walked in the glare and glow, Presences plain in the place; or, fresh from the Protoplast, Furnished for ages to come, when a kindlier wind should blow, Lured now to begin and live, in a house to their liking at last; Or else the wonderful Dead who have passed through the body and gone, But were back once more to breathe in an old world worth their new: What never had been, was now; what was, as it shall be anon; And what is,--shall I say, matched both? for I was made perfect too. All through my keys that gave their sounds to a wish of my soul, All through my soul that praised as its wish flowed visibly forth, All through music and me! For think, had I painted the whole, Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the process so wonder-worth: Had I written the same, made verse--still, effect proceeds from cause, Ye know why the forms are fair, ye hear how the tale is told; It is all triumphant art, but art in obedience to laws,

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But here is the finger of God, a flash of the will that can, Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are! And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man, That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star. Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought; It is everywhere in the world--loud, soft, and all is said: Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought: And, there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!

Painter and poet are proud in the artist-list enrolled:--

Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music I reared; Gone! and the good tears start, the praises that come too slow; For one is assured at first, one scarce can say that he feared, That he even gave it a thought, the gone thing was to go. Never to be again! But many more of the kind As good, nay, better, perchance: is this your comfort to me? To me, who must be saved because I cling with my mind To the same, same self, same love, same God: ay, what was, shall be. Therefore to whom turn I but to thee, the ineffable Name? Builder and maker, thou, of houses not made with hands! What, have fear of change from thee who art ever the same? Doubt that thy power can fill the heart that thy power expands? There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before; The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound; What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more; On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round. All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist; Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist When eternity affirms the conception of an hour. The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard, The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky, Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard; Enough that he heard it once: we shall hear it by and by.

And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence For the fulness of the days? Have we withered or agonized? Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence? Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized? Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear, Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe: But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear; The rest may reason and welcome; 'tis we musicians know. Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes her reign: I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce. Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again, Sliding by semitones till I sink to the minor,--yes, And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground,

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Robert Browning

Surveying awhile the heights I rolled from into the deep; Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found, The C Major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.

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Abt Volger <i>(after he has been extemporizing upon the musical instrument of his invention)</i> Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build, Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work, Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk, Man, brute, reptile, fly,---alien of end and of aim, Adverse, each from the other heaven-high, hell-deep removed,--Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!

Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine, This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise! Ah, one and all, how they helped, would dispart now and now combine, Zealous to hasten the work, heighten their master his praise! And one would bury his brow with a wild plunge down to hell, Burrow awhile and build, broad on the roots of things, Then up again swim into sight, having based me my palace well, Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs. And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was, Ay, another and yet another, one crowded but with many a crest, Raising my rampired walls of gold as transparent as glass, Eager to do and die, yield each his place to the rest: For higher still and higher (as a runner tips with fire, When a great illumination surprises a festal night --Outlined round and round Rome's dome from space to spire) Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and the pride of my soul was in sight.

In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match man's birth, Nature in turn conceived, obeying an impulse as I; And the emulous heaven yearned down, made effort to reach the earth, As the earth had done her best, in my passion, to scale the sky: Novel splendours burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine, Not a point but found and fixed its wandering star; Meteor-moons, balls of blaze: and they did not pale nor pine, For earth had attained to heaven, there was no more near nor far.

Nay more; for there wanted not who walked in the glare and glow, Presences plain in the place; or, fresh from the Protoplast, Furnished for ages to come, when a kindlier wind should blow, Lured now to begin and live, in a house to their liking at last; Or else the wonderful Dead who have passed through the body and gone, But were back once more to breathe in an old world worth their new: What never had been, was now; what was, as it shall be anon; And what is,--- shall I say, matched both? for I was made perfect too. All through my keys that gave their sounds to a wish of my soul, All through my soul that praised as its wish flowed visibly forth, All through music and me! For think, had I painted the whole,

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Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the process so wonder-worth: Had I written the same, made verse---still, effect proceeds from cause, Ye know why the forms are fair, ye hear how the tale is told; It is all triumphant art, but art in obedience to laws, Painter and poet are proud in the artist-list enrolled:--But here is the finger of God, a flash of the will that can, Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are! And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man, That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star. Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought; It is everywhere in the world---loud, soft, and all is said: Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought: And, there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head! Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music I reared; Gone! and the good tears start, the praises that come too slow; For one is assured at first, one scarce can say that he feared, That he even gave it a thought, the gone thing was to go. Never to be again! But many more of the kind As good, nay, better perchance: is this your comfort to me? To me, who must be saved because I cling with my mind To the same, same self, same God; ay, what was, shall be.

Therefore to whom turn I but to Thee, the ineffable Name? Builder and maker, Thou, of houses not made with hands! What, have fear of change from Thee who art ever the same? Doubt that Thy power can fill the heart that Thy power expands? There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before; The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound; What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more; On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round. All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist; Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist When eternity affirms the conception of an hour. The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard, The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky, Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard; Enough that He heard it once: we shall hear it by-and-by.

And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence For the fulness of the days? Have we withered or agonized? Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence? Why rushed the discords in but that harmony should be prized? Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear, Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe: But God has a few of us whom He whispers in the ear; The rest may reason and welcome, 'tis we musicians know.
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Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes her reign:

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I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce. Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again, Sliding by semitones, till I sink to the minor,---yes, And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground, Surveying a while the heights I rolled from into the deep; Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found, The C major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep. Robert Browning

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After Take the cloak from his face, and at first Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man! Death has done all death can. And, absorbed in the new life he leads, He recks not, he heeds Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike On his senses alike, And are lost in the solemn and strange Surprise of the change. Ha, what avails death to erase His offence, my disgrace? I would we were boys as of old In the field, by the fold: His outrage, God's patience, man's scorn Were so easily borne! I stand here now, he lies in his place: Cover the face! Robert Browning

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Aix In Provence Christ God who savest man, save most Of men Count Gismond who saved me! Count Gauthier, when he chose his post, Chose time and place and company To suit it; when he struck at length My honour, 'twas with all his strength. And doubtlessly ere he could draw All points to one, he must have schemed! That miserable morning saw Few half so happy as I seemed, While being dressed in queen's array To give our tourney prize away. I thought they loved me, did me grace To please themselves; 'twas all their deed; God makes, or fair or foul, our face; If showing mine so caused to bleed My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped A word, and straight the play had stopped. They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen By virtue of her brow and breast; Not needing to be crowned, I mean, As I do. E'en when I was dressed, Had either of them spoke, instead Of glancing sideways with still head! But no: they let me laugh, and sing My birthday song quite through, adjust The last rose in my garland, fling A last look on the mirror, trust My arms to each an arm of theirs, And so descend the castle-stairs--And come out on the morning-troop Of merry friends who kissed my cheek, And called me queen, and made me stoop Under the canopy---(a streak That pierced it, of the outside sun, Powdered with gold its gloom's soft dun)--www.PoemHunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive 33

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

And they could let me take my state And foolish throne amid applause Of all come there to celebrate My queen's-day---Oh I think the cause Of much was, they forgot no crowd Makes up for parents in their shroud! However that be, all eyes were bent Upon me, when my cousins cast Theirs down; 'twas time I should present The victor's crown, but ... there, 'twill last No long time ... the old mist again Blinds me as then it did. How vain! See! Gismond's at the gate, in talk With his two boys: I can proceed. Well, at that moment, who should stalk Forth boldly---to my face, indeed--But Gauthier, and he thundered ``Stay!'' And all stayed. ``Bring no crowns, I say! ``Bring torches! Wind the penance-sheet ``About her! Let her shun the chaste, ``Or lay herself before their feet! ``Shall she whose body I embraced ``A night long, queen it in the day? ``For honour's sake no crowns, I say!'' I? What I answered? As I live, I never fancied such a thing As answer possible to give. What says the body when they spring Some monstrous torture-engine's whole Strength on it? No more says the soul. Till out strode Gismond; then I knew That I was saved. I never met His face before, but, at first view, I felt quite sure that God had set Himself to Satan; who would spend XII. XI. X. IX, VIII.

VII.

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A minute's mistrust on the end? He strode to Gauthier, in his throat Gave him the lie, then struck his mouth With one back-handed blow that wrote In blood men's verdict there. North, South, East, West, I looked. The lie was dead, And damned, and truth stood up instead. This glads me most, that I enjoyed The heart of the joy, with my content In watching Gismond unalloyed By any doubt of the event: God took that on him---I was bid Watch Gismond for my part: I did. Did I not watch him while he let His armourer just brace his greaves, Rivet his hauberk, on the fret The while! His foot ... my memory leaves No least stamp out, nor how anon He pulled his ringing gauntlets on. And e'en before the trumpet's sound Was finished, prone lay the false knight, Prone as his lie, upon the ground: Gismond flew at him, used no sleight O' the sword, but open-breasted drove, Cleaving till out the truth he clove. Which done, he dragged him to my feet And said ``Here die, but end thy breath ``In full confession, lest thou fleet ``From my first, to God's second death! ``Say, hast thou lied?'' And, ``I have lied ``To God and her,'' he said, and died. Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked ---What safe my heart holds, though no word Could I repeat now, if I tasked XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV. XIV. XIII.

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My powers forever, to a third Dear even as you are. Pass the rest Until I sank upon his breast. Over my head his arm he flung Against the world; and scarce I felt His sword (that dripped by me and swung) A little shifted in its belt: For he began to say the while How South our home lay many a mile. So 'mid the shouting multitude We two walked forth to never more Return. My cousins have pursued Their life, untroubled as before I vexed them. Gauthier's dwelling-place God lighten! May his soul find grace! Our elder boy has got the clear Great brow; tho' when his brother's black Full eye slows scorn, it . . . Gismond here? And have you brought my tercel*1 back? I just was telling Adela How many birds it struck since May. *1 A male of the peregrine falcon. Robert Browning XXI. XX. XIX.

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Among the Rocks Oh, good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth, This autumn morning! How he sets his bones To bask i' the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet For the ripple to run over in its mirth; Listening the while, where on the heap of stones The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet. That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true; Such is life's trial, as old earth smiles and knows. If you loved only what were worth your love, Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you: Make the low nature better by your throes! Give earth yourself, go up for gain above! Robert Browning

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An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Kar Karshish, the picker-up of learning's crumbs, The not-incurious in God's handiwork (This man's-flesh he hath admirably made, Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste, To coop up and keep down on earth a space That puff of vapour from his mouth, man's soul) --To Abib, all-sagacious in our art, Breeder in me of what poor skill I boast, Like me inquisitive how pricks and cracks Befall the flesh through too much stress and strain, Whereby the wily vapour fain would slip Back and rejoin its source before the term,-And aptest in contrivance (under God) To baffle it by deftly stopping such:-The vagrant Scholar to his Sage at home Sends greeting (health and knowledge, fame with peace) Three samples of true snakestone--rarer still, One of the other sort, the melon-shaped, (But fitter, pounded fine, for charms than drugs) And writeth now the twenty-second time. My journeyings were brought to Jericho; Thus I resume. Who studious in our art Shall count a little labour unrepaid? I have shed sweat enough, left flesh and bone On many a flinty furlong of this land. Also, the country-side is all on fire With rumours of a marching hitherward: Some say Vespasian cometh, some, his son. A black lynx snarled and pricked a tufted ear; Lust of my blood inflamed his yellow balls: I cried and threw my staff and he was gone. Twice have the robbers stripped and beaten me, And once a town declared me for a spy; But at the end, I reach Jerusalem, Since this poor covert where I pass the night, This Bethany, lies scarce the distance thence A man with plague-sores at the third degree Runs till he drops down dead. Thou laughest here! 'Sooth, it elates me, thus reposed and safe, To void the stuffing of my travel-scrip And share with thee whatever Jewry yields A viscid choler is observable In tertians, I was nearly bold to say; And falling-sickness hath a happier cure Than our school wots of: there's a spider here Weaves no web, watches on the ledge of tombs, Sprinkled with mottles on an ash-grey back; Take five and drop them . . . but who knows his mind, The Syrian runagate I trust this to? His service payeth me a sublimate Blown up his nose to help the ailing eye.

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Best wait: I reach Jerusalem at morn, There set in order my experiences, Gather what most deserves, and give thee all-Or I might add, Judea's gum-tragacanth Scales off in purer flakes, shines clearer-grained, Cracks 'twixt the pestle and the porphyry, In fine exceeds our produce. Scalp-disease Confounds me, crossing so with leprosy-Thou hadst admired one sort I gained at Zoar-But zeal outruns discretion. Here I end.

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'Tis but a case of mania--subinduced By epilepsy, at the turning-point Of trance prolonged unduly some three days: When, by the exhibition of some drug Or spell, exorcization, stroke of art Unknown to me and which 'twere well to know, The evil thing out-breaking all at once Left the man whole and sound of body indeed,-But, flinging (so to speak) life's gates too wide, Making a clear house of it too suddenly, The first conceit that entered might inscribe Whatever it was minded on the wall So plainly at that vantage, as it were, (First come, first served) that nothing subsequent Attaineth to erase those fancy-scrawls The just-returned and new-established soul Hath gotten now so thoroughly by heart That henceforth she will read or these or none. And first--the man's own firm conviction rests That he was dead (in fact they buried him) --That he was dead and then restored to life By a Nazarene physician of his tribe: --'Sayeth, the same bade "Rise," and he did rise.

Yet stay: my Syrian blinketh gratefully, Protesteth his devotion is my price-Suppose I write what harms not, though he steal? I half resolve to tell thee, yet I blush, What set me off a-writing first of all. An itch I had, a sting to write, a tang! For, be it this town's barrenness--or else The Man had something in the look of him-His case has struck me far more than 'tis worth. So, pardon if--(lest presently I lose In the great press of novelty at hand The care and pains this somehow stole from me) I bid thee take the thing while fresh in mind, Almost in sight--for, wilt thou have the truth? The very man is gone from me but now, Whose ailment is the subject of discourse. Thus then, and let thy better wit help all!

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"Such cases are diurnal," thou wilt cry. Not so this figment!--not, that such a fume, Instead of giving way to time and health, Should eat itself into the life of life, As saffron tingeth flesh, blood, bones and all! For see, how he takes up the after-life. The man--it is one Lazarus a Jew, Sanguine, proportioned, fifty years of age, The body's habit wholly laudable, As much, indeed, beyond the common health As he were made and put aside to show. Think, could we penetrate by any drug And bathe the wearied soul and worried flesh, And bring it clear and fair, by three days' sleep! Whence has the man the balm that brightens all? This grown man eyes the world now like a child. Some elders of his tribe, I should premise, Led in their friend, obedient as a sheep, To bear my inquisition. While they spoke, Now sharply, now with sorrow,--told the case,-He listened not except I spoke to him, But folded his two hands and let them talk, Watching the flies that buzzed: and yet no fool. And that's a sample how his years must go. Look, if a beggar, in fixed middle-life, Should find a treasure,--can he use the same With straitened habits and with tastes starved small, And take at once to his impoverished brain The sudden element that changes things, That sets the undreamed-of rapture at his hand And puts the cheap old joy in the scorned dust? Is he not such an one as moves to mirth-Warily parsimonious, when no need, Wasteful as drunkenness at undue times? All prudent counsel as to what befits The golden mean, is lost on such an one The man's fantastic will is the man's law. So here--we call the treasure knowledge, say, Increased beyond the fleshly faculty-Heaven opened to a soul while yet on earth, Earth forced on a soul's use while seeing heaven: The man is witless of the size, the sum, The value in proportion of all things, Or whether it be little or be much. Discourse to him of prodigious armaments Assembled to besiege his city now, And of the passing of a mule with gourds-'Tis one! Then take it on the other side, Speak of some trifling fact--he will gaze rapt With stupor at its very littleness, (Far as I see) as if in that indeed He caught prodigious import, whole results;

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And so will turn to us the bystanders In ever the same stupor (note this point) That we too see not with his opened eyes. Wonder and doubt come wrongly into play, Preposterously, at cross purposes. Should his child sicken unto death,--why, look For scarce abatement of his cheerfulness, Or pretermission of the daily craft! While a word, gesture, glance, from that same child At play or in the school or laid asleep, Will startle him to an agony of fear, Exasperation, just as like. Demand The reason why--" `tis but a word," object-"A gesture"--he regards thee as our lord Who lived there in the pyramid alone Looked at us (dost thou mind?) when, being young, We both would unadvisedly recite Some charm's beginning, from that book of his, Able to bid the sun throb wide and burst All into stars, as suns grown old are wont. Thou and the child have each a veil alike Thrown o'er your heads, from under which ye both Stretch your blind hands and trifle with a match Over a mine of Greek fire, did ye know! He holds on firmly to some thread of life-(It is the life to lead perforcedly) Which runs across some vast distracting orb Of glory on either side that meagre thread, Which, conscious of, he must not enter yet-The spiritual life around the earthly life: The law of that is known to him as this, His heart and brain move there, his feet stay here. So is the man perplext with impulses Sudden to start off crosswise, not straight on, Proclaiming what is right and wrong across, And not along, this black thread through the blaze-"It should be" baulked by "here it cannot be." And oft the man's soul springs into his face As if he saw again and heard again His sage that bade him "Rise" and he did rise. Something, a word, a tick of the blood within Admonishes: then back he sinks at once To ashes, who was very fire before, In sedulous recurrence to his trade Whereby he earneth him the daily bread; And studiously the humbler for that pride, Professedly the faultier that he knows God's secret, while he holds the thread of life. Indeed the especial marking of the man Is prone submission to the heavenly will-Seeing it, what it is, and why it is. 'Sayeth, he will wait patient to the last

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For that same death which must restore his being To equilibrium, body loosening soul Divorced even now by premature full growth: He will live, nay, it pleaseth him to live So long as God please, and just how God please. He even seeketh not to please God more (Which meaneth, otherwise) than as God please. Hence, I perceive not he affects to preach The doctrine of his sect whate'er it be, Make proselytes as madmen thirst to do: How can he give his neighbour the real ground, His own conviction? Ardent as he is-Call his great truth a lie, why, still the old "Be it as God please" reassureth him. I probed the sore as thy disciple should: "How, beast," said I, "this stolid carelessness Sufficeth thee, when Rome is on her march To stamp out like a little spark thy town, Thy tribe, thy crazy tale and thee at once?" He merely looked with his large eyes on me. The man is apathetic, you deduce? Contrariwise, he loves both old and young, Able and weak, affects the very brutes And birds--how say I? flowers of the field-As a wise workman recognizes tools In a master's workshop, loving what they make. Thus is the man as harmless as a lamb: Only impatient, let him do his best, At ignorance and carelessness and sin-An indignation which is promptly curbed: As when in certain travels I have feigned To be an ignoramus in our art According to some preconceived design, And happed to hear the land's practitioners, Steeped in conceit sublimed by ignorance, Prattle fantastically on disease, Its cause and cure--and I must hold my peace!

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Thou wilt object--why have I not ere this Sought out the sage himself, the Nazarene Who wrought this cure, inquiring at the source, Conferring with the frankness that befits? Alas! it grieveth me, the learned leech Perished in a tumult many years ago, Accused,--our learning's fate,--of wizardry, Rebellion, to the setting up a rule And creed prodigious as described to me. His death, which happened when the earthquake fell (Prefiguring, as soon appeared, the loss To occult learning in our lord the sage Who lived there in the pyramid alone) Was wrought by the mad people--that's their wont!

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On vain recourse, as I conjecture it, To his tried virtue, for miraculous help-How could he stop the earthquake? That's their way! The other imputations must be lies: But take one, though I loathe to give it thee, In mere respect for any good man's fame. (And after all, our patient Lazarus Is stark mad; should we count on what he says? Perhaps not: though in writing to a leech 'Tis well to keep back nothing of a case.) This man so cured regards the curer, then As--God forgive me! who but God himself, Creator and sustainer of the world, That came and dwelt in flesh on 't awhile! --'Sayeth that such an one was born and lived, Taught, healed the sick, broke bread at his own house, Then died, with Lazarus by, for aught I know, And yet was . . . what I said nor choose repeat, And must have so avouched himself, in fact, In hearing of this very Lazarus Who saith--but why all this of what he saith? Why write of trivial matters, things of price Calling at every moment for remark? I noticed on the margin of a pool Blue-flowering borage, the Aleppo sort, Aboundeth, very nitrous. It is strange! Thy pardon for this long and tedious case, Which, now that I review it, needs must seem Unduly dwelt on, prolixly set forth! Nor I myself discern in what is writ Good cause for the peculiar interest And awe indeed this man has touched me with. Perhaps the journey's end, the weariness Had wrought upon me first. I met him thus: I crossed a ridge of short sharp broken hills Like an old lion's cheek teeth. Out there came A moon made like a face with certain spots Multiform, manifold, and menacing: Then a wind rose behind me. So we met In this old sleepy town at unaware, The man and I. I send thee what is writ. Regard it as a chance, a matter risked To this ambiguous Syrian--he may lose, Or steal, or give it thee with equal good. Jerusalem's repose shall make amends For time this letter wastes, thy time and mine; Till when, once more thy pardon and farewell! The very God! think, Abib; dost thou think? So, the All-Great, were the All-Loving too-So, through the thunder comes a human voice

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Robert Browning

Saying, "O heart I made, a heart beats here! Face, my hands fashioned, see it in myself! Thou hast no power nor mayst conceive of mine, But love I gave thee, with myself to love, And thou must love me who have died for thee!" The madman saith He said so: it is strange.

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Andrea del Sarto But do not let us quarrel any more, No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once: Sit down and all shall happen as you wish. You turn your face, but does it bring your heart? I'll work then for your friend's friend, never fear, Treat his own subject after his own way, Fix his own time, accept too his own price, And shut the money into this small hand When next it takes mine. Will it? tenderly? Oh, I'll content him,--but to-morrow, Love! I often am much wearier than you think, This evening more than usual, and it seems As if--forgive now--should you let me sit Here by the window with your hand in mine And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole, Both of one mind, as married people use, Quietly, quietly the evening through, I might get up to-morrow to my work Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try. To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this! Your soft hand is a woman of itself, And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside. Don't count the time lost, neither; you must serve For each of the five pictures we require: It saves a model. So! keep looking so-My serpentining beauty, rounds on rounds! --How could you ever prick those perfect ears, Even to put the pearl there! oh, so sweet-My face, my moon, my everybody's moon, Which everybody looks on and calls his, And, I suppose, is looked on by in turn, While she looks--no one's: very dear, no less. You smile? why, there's my picture ready made, There's what we painters call our harmony! A common greyness silvers everything,-All in a twilight, you and I alike --You, at the point of your first pride in me (That's gone you know),--but I, at every point; My youth, my hope, my art, being all toned down To yonder sober pleasant Fiesole. There's the bell clinking from the chapel-top; That length of convent-wall across the way Holds the trees safer, huddled more inside; The last monk leaves the garden; days decrease, And autumn grows, autumn in everything. Eh? the whole seems to fall into a shape As if I saw alike my work and self And all that I was born to be and do, A twilight-piece. Love, we are in God's hand. How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead; So free we seem, so fettered fast we are! I feel he laid the fetter: let it lie!

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This chamber for example--turn your head-All that's behind us! You don't understand Nor care to understand about my art, But you can hear at least when people speak: And that cartoon, the second from the door --It is the thing, Love! so such things should be-Behold Madonna!--I am bold to say. I can do with my pencil what I know, What I see, what at bottom of my heart I wish for, if I ever wish so deep-Do easily, too--when I say, perfectly, I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge, Who listened to the Legate's talk last week, And just as much they used to say in France. At any rate 'tis easy, all of it! No sketches first, no studies, that's long past: I do what many dream of, all their lives, --Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do, And fail in doing. I could count twenty such On twice your fingers, and not leave this town, Who strive--you don't know how the others strive To paint a little thing like that you smeared Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says, (I know his name, no matter)--so much less! Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged. There burns a truer light of God in them, In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain, Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine. Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know, Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me, Enter and take their place there sure enough, Though they come back and cannot tell the world. My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here. The sudden blood of these men! at a word-Praise them, it boils, or blame them, it boils too. I, painting from myself and to myself, Know what I do, am unmoved by men's blame Or their praise either. Somebody remarks Morello's outline there is wrongly traced, His hue mistaken; what of that? or else, Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that? Speak as they please, what does the mountain care? Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey, Placid and perfect with my art: the worse! I know both what I want and what might gain, And yet how profitless to know, to sigh "Had I been two, another and myself, "Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt. Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth

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The Urbinate who died five years ago. ('Tis copied, George Vasari sent it me.) Well, I can fancy how he did it all, Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see, Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him, Above and through his art--for it gives way; That arm is wrongly put--and there again-A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines, Its body, so to speak: its soul is right, He means right--that, a child may understand. Still, what an arm! and I could alter it: But all the play, the insight and the stretch-(Out of me, out of me! And wherefore out? Had you enjoined them on me, given me soul, We might have risen to Rafael, I and you! Nay, Love, you did give all I asked, I think-More than I merit, yes, by many times. But had you--oh, with the same perfect brow, And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth, And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird The fowler's pipe, and follows to the snare -Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind! Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged "God and the glory! never care for gain. "The present by the future, what is that? "Live for fame, side by side with Agnolo! "Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!" I might have done it for you. So it seems: Perhaps not. All is as God over-rules. Beside, incentives come from the soul's self; The rest avail not. Why do I need you? What wife had Rafael, or has Agnolo? In this world, who can do a thing, will not; And who would do it, cannot, I perceive: Yet the will's somewhat--somewhat, too, the power-And thus we half-men struggle. At the end, God, I conclude, compensates, punishes. 'Tis safer for me, if the award be strict, That I am something underrated here, Poor this long while, despised, to speak the truth. I dared not, do you know, leave home all day, For fear of chancing on the Paris lords. The best is when they pass and look aside; But they speak sometimes; I must bear it all. Well may they speak! That Francis, that first time, And that long festal year at Fontainebleau! I surely then could sometimes leave the ground, Put on the glory, Rafael's daily wear, In that humane great monarch's golden look,-One finger in his beard or twisted curl Over his mouth's good mark that made the smile, One arm about my shoulder, round my neck,

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The jingle of his gold chain in my ear, I painting proudly with his breath on me, All his court round him, seeing with his eyes, Such frank French eyes, and such a fire of souls Profuse, my hand kept plying by those hearts,-And, best of all, this, this, this face beyond, This in the background, waiting on my work, To crown the issue with a last reward! A good time, was it not, my kingly days? And had you not grown restless... but I know-'Tis done and past: 'twas right, my instinct said: Too live the life grew, golden and not grey, And I'm the weak-eyed bat no sun should tempt Out of the grange whose four walls make his world. How could it end in any other way? You called me, and I came home to your heart. The triumph was--to reach and stay there; since I reached it ere the triumph, what is lost? Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold, You beautiful Lucrezia that are mine! "Rafael did this, Andrea painted that; "The Roman's is the better when you pray, "But still the other's Virgin was his wife--" Men will excuse me. I am glad to judge Both pictures in your presence; clearer grows My better fortune, I resolve to think. For, do you know, Lucrezia, as God lives, Said one day Agnolo, his very self, To Rafael . . . I have known it all these years . . . (When the young man was flaming out his thoughts Upon a palace-wall for Rome to see, Too lifted up in heart because of it) "Friend, there's a certain sorry little scrub "Goes up and down our Florence, none cares how, "Who, were he set to plan and execute "As you are, pricked on by your popes and kings, "Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours!" To Rafael's!--And indeed the arm is wrong. I hardly dare . . . yet, only you to see, Give the chalk here--quick, thus, the line should go! Ay, but the soul! he's Rafael! rub it out! Still, all I care for, if he spoke the truth, (What he? why, who but Michel Agnolo? Do you forget already words like those?) If really there was such a chance, so lost,-Is, whether you're--not grateful--but more pleased. Well, let me think so. And you smile indeed! This hour has been an hour! Another smile? If you would sit thus by me every night I should work better, do you comprehend? I mean that I should earn more, give you more. See, it is settled dusk now; there's a star;

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Morello's gone, the watch-lights show the wall, The cue-owls speak the name we call them by. Come from the window, love,--come in, at last, Inside the melancholy little house We built to be so gay with. God is just. King Francis may forgive me: oft at nights When I look up from painting, eyes tired out, The walls become illumined, brick from brick Distinct, instead of mortar, fierce bright gold, That gold of his I did cement them with! Let us but love each other. Must you go? That Cousin here again? he waits outside? Must see you--you, and not with me? Those loans? More gaming debts to pay? you smiled for that? Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend? While hand and eye and something of a heart Are left me, work's my ware, and what's it worth? I'll pay my fancy. Only let me sit The grey remainder of the evening out, Idle, you call it, and muse perfectly How I could paint, were I but back in France, One picture, just one more--the Virgin's face, Not yours this time! I want you at my side To hear them--that is, Michel Agnolo-Judge all I do and tell you of its worth. Will you? To-morrow, satisfy your friend. I take the subjects for his corridor, Finish the portrait out of hand--there, there, And throw him in another thing or two If he demurs; the whole should prove enough To pay for this same Cousin's freak. Beside, What's better and what's all I care about, Get you the thirteen scudi for the ruff! Love, does that please you? Ah, but what does he, The Cousin! what does he to please you more?

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I am grown peaceful as old age to-night. I regret little, I would change still less. Since there my past life lies, why alter it? The very wrong to Francis!--it is true I took his coin, was tempted and complied, And built this house and sinned, and all is said. My father and my mother died of want. Well, had I riches of my own? you see How one gets rich! Let each one bear his lot. They were born poor, lived poor, and poor they died: And I have laboured somewhat in my time And not been paid profusely. Some good son Paint my two hundred pictures--let him try! No doubt, there's something strikes a balance. Yes, You loved me quite enough. it seems to-night. This must suffice me here. What would one have?

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In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance-Four great walls in the New Jerusalem, Meted on each side by the angel's reed, For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo and me To cover--the three first without a wife, While I have mine! So--still they overcome Because there's still Lucrezia,--as I choose. Again the Cousin's whistle! Go, my Love. Robert Browning

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Another Way Of Love I. June was not over Though past the fall, And the best of her roses Had yet to blow, When a man I know (But shall not discover, Since ears are dull, And time discloses) Turned him and said with a man's true air, Half sighing a smile in a yawn, as 'twere,--``If I tire of your June, will she greatly care?'' Well, dear, in-doors with you! True! serene deadness Tries a man's temper. What's in the blossom June wears on her bosom? Can it clear scores with you? Sweetness and redness. _Eadem semper!_ Go, let me care for it greatly or slightly! If June mend her bower now, your hand left unsightly By plucking the roses,---my June will do rightly. And after, for pastime, If June be refulgent With flowers in completeness, All petals, no prickles, Delicious as trickles Of wine poured at mass-time,--And choose One indulgent To redness and sweetness: Or if, with experience of man and of spider, June use my June-lightning, the strong insect-ridder, And stop the fresh film-work,---why, June will consider. Robert Browning III. II.

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Any Wife To Any Husband My love, this is the bitterest, that thou--Who art all truth, and who dost love me now As thine eyes say, as thy voice breaks to say--Shouldst love so truly, and couldst love me still A whole long life through, had but love its will, Would death that leads me from thee brook delay. I have but to be by thee, and thy hand Will never let mine go, nor heart withstand The beating of my heart to reach its place. When shall I look for thee and feel thee gone? When cry for the old comfort and find none? Never, I know! Thy soul is in thy face. Oh, I should fade---'tis willed so! Might I save, Gladly I would, whatever beauty gave Joy to thy sense, for that was precious too. It is not to be granted. But the soul Whence the love comes, all ravage leaves that whole; Vainly the flesh fades; soul makes all things new. It would not be because my eye grew dim Thou couldst not find the love there, thanks to Him Who never is dishonoured in the spark He gave us from his fire of fires, and bade Remember whence it sprang, nor be afraid While that burns on, though all the rest grow dark. So, how thou wouldst be perfect, white and clean Outside as inside, soul and soul's demesne Alike, this body given to show it by! Oh, three-parts through the worst of life's abyss, What plaudits from the next world after this, Couldst thou repeat a stroke and gain the sky! And is it not the bitterer to think That, disengage our hands and thou wilt sink Although thy love was love in very deed? I know that nature! Pass a festive day, Thou dost not throw its relic-flower away Nor bid its music's loitering echo speed.
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II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

Thou let'st the stranger's glove lie where it fell; If old things remain old things all is well, For thou art grateful as becomes man best And hadst thou only heard me play one tune, Or viewed me from a window, not so soon With thee would such things fade as with the rest. I seem to see! We meet and part; 'tis brief; The book I opened keeps a folded leaf, The very chair I sat on, breaks the rank That is a portrait of me on the wall--Three lines, my face comes at so slight a call: And for all this, one little hour to thank! But now, because the hour through years was fixed, Because our inmost beings met and mixed, Because thou once hast loved me---wilt thou dare Say to thy soul and Who may list beside, ``Therefore she is immortally my bride; ``Chance cannot change my love, nor time impair. ``So, what if in the dusk of life that's left, ``I, a tired traveller of my sun bereft, Look from my path when, mimicking the same, ``The fire-fly glimpses past me, come and gone? ``---Where was it till the sunset? where anon ``It will be at the sunrise! What's to blame?'' Is it so helpful to thee? Canst thou take The mimic up, nor, for the true thing's sake, Put gently by such efforts at a beam? Is the remainder of the way so long, Thou need'st the little solace, thou the strong Watch out thy watch, let weak ones doze and dream! ---Ah, but the fresher faces! ``Is it true,'' Thou'lt ask, ``some eyes are beautiful and new? ``Some hair,---how can one choose but grasp such wealth? ``And if a man would press his lips to lips ``Fresh as the wilding hedge-rose-cup there slips XII. XI. X. IX. VIII.

VII.

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``The dew-drop out of, must it be by stealth? ``It cannot change the love still kept for Her, ``More than if such a picture I prefer ``Passing a day with, to a room's bare side: The painted form takes nothing she possessed, Yet, while the Titian's Venus lies at rest, A man looks. Once more, what is there to chide?'' So must I see, from where I sit and watch, My own self sell myself, my hand attach Its warrant to the very thefts from me--Thy singleness of soul that made me proud, Thy purity of heart I loved aloud, Thy man's-truth I was bold to bid God see! Love so, then, if thou wilt! Give all thou canst Away to the new faces---disentranced, (Say it and think it) obdurate no more: Re-issue looks and words from the old mint, Pass them afresh, no matter whose the print Image and superscription once they bore Re-coin thyself and give it them to spend,--It all comes to the same thing at the end, Since mine thou wast, mine art and mine shalt be, Faithful or faithless, scaling up the sum Or lavish of my treasure, thou must come Back to the heart's place here I keep for thee! Only, why should it be with stain at all? Why must I, 'twixt the leaves of coronal, Put any kiss of pardon on thy brow? Why need the other women know so much, And talk together, ``Such the look and such ``The smile he used to love with, then as now!'' Might I die last and show thee! Should I find Such hardship in the few years left behind, If free to take and light my lamp, and go XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV. XIV. XIII.

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Into thy tomb, and shut the door and sit, Seeing thy face on those four sides of it The better that they are so blank, I know! Why, time was what I wanted, to turn o'er Within my mind each look, get more and more By heart each word, too much to learn at first; And join thee all the fitter for the pause 'Neath the low doorway's lintel. That were cause For lingering, though thou calledst, if I durst! And yet thou art the nobler of us two What dare I dream of, that thou canst not do, Outstripping my ten small steps with one stride? I'll say then, here's a trial and a task--Is it to bear?---if easy, I'll not ask: Though love fail, I can trust on in thy pride. Pride?---when those eyes forestall the life behind The death I have to go through!---when I find, Now that I want thy help most, all of thee! What did I fear? Thy love shall hold me fast Until the little minute's sleep is past And I wake saved.---And yet it will not be! Robert Browning XXI. XX. XIX.

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Before I. Let them fight it out, friend! things have gone too far. God must judge the couple: leave them as they are ---Whichever one's the guiltless, to his glory, And whichever one the guilt's with, to my story! Why, you would not bid men, sunk in such a slough, Strike no arm out further, stick and stink as now, Leaving right and wrong to settle the embroilment, Heaven with snaky hell, in torture and entoilment? Who's the culprit of them? How must he conceive God---the queen he caps to, laughing in his sleeve, `` 'Tis but decent to profess oneself beneath her: ``Still, one must not be too much in earnest, either!'' Better sin the whole sin, sure that God observes; Then go live his life out! Life will try his nerves, When the sky, which noticed all, makes no disclosure, And the earth keeps up her terrible composure. Let him pace at pleasure, past the walls of rose, Pluck their fruits when grape-trees graze him as he goes! For he 'gins to guess the purpose of the garden, With the sly mute thing, beside there, for a warden. What's the leopard-dog-thing, constant at his side, A leer and lie in every eye of its obsequious hide? When will come an end to all the mock obeisance, And the price appear that pays for the misfeasance? So much for the culprit. Who's the martyred man? Let him bear one stroke more, for be sure he can! He that strove thus evil's lump with good to leaven, Let him give his blood at last and get his heaven! All or nothing, stake it! Trust she God or no? VIII. VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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Thus far and no farther? farther? be it so! Now, enough of your chicane of prudent pauses, Sage provisos, sub-intents and saving-clauses! Ah, ``forgive'' you bid him? While God's champion lives, Wrong shall be resisted: dead, why, he forgives. But you must not end my friend ere you begin him; Evil stands not crowned on earth, while breath is in him. Once more---Will the wronger, at this last of all, Dare to say, ``I did wrong,'' rising in his fall? No?---Let go then! Both the fighters to their places! While I count three, step you back as many paces! Robert Browning X. IX.

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Bishop Blougram's Apology NO more wine? then we'll push back chairs and talk. A final glass for me, though: cool, i' faith! We ought to have our Abbey back, you see. It's different, preaching in basilicas, And doing duty in some masterpiece Like this of brother Pugin's, bless his heart! I doubt if they're half baked, those chalk rosettes, Ciphers and stucco-twiddlings everywhere; It's just like breathing in a lime-kiln: eh? These hot long ceremonies of our church Cost us a little--oh, they pay the price, You take me--amply pay it! Now, we'll talk. So, you despise me, Mr. Gigadibs. No deprecation,--nay, I beg you, sir! Beside 't is our engagement: don't you know, I promised, if you'd watch a dinner out, We'd see truth dawn together?--truth that peeps Over the glasses' edge when dinner's done,

And body gets its sop and holds its noise And leaves soul free a little. Now's the time: 'T is break of day! You do despise me then. And if I say, "despise me,"--never fear! I know you do not in a certain sense-Not in my arm-chair, for example: here, I well imagine you respect my place ( Status, entourage , worldly circumstance) Quite to its value--very much indeed: --Are up to the protesting eyes of you In pride at being seated here for once-You'll turn it to such capital account! When somebody, through years and years to come, Hints of the bishop,--names me--that's enough: "Blougram? I knew him"--(into it you slide) "Dined with him once, a Corpus Christi Day, "All alone, we two; he's a clever man: "And after dinner,--why, the wine you know,-"Oh, there was wine, and good!--what with the wine . . "'Faith, we began upon all sorts of talk! "He's no bad fellow, Blougram; he had seen "Something of mine he relished, some review: "He's quite above their humbug in his heart, "Half-said as much, indeed--the thing's his trade. "I warrant, Blougram's sceptical at times: "How otherwise? I liked him, I confess!" Che che , my dear sir, as we say at Rome, Don't you protest now! It's fair give and take; You have had your turn and spoken your home-truths:

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The hand's mine now, and here you follow suit.

Thus much conceded, still the first fact stays-You do despise me; your ideal of life Is not the bishop's: you would not be I. You would like better to be Goethe, now, Or Buonaparte, or, bless me, lower still, Count D'Orsay,--so you did what you preferred, Spoke as you thought, and, as you cannot help, Believed or disbelieved, no matter what, So long as on that point, whate'er it was, You loosed your mind, were whole and sole yourself. --That, my ideal never can include, Upon that element of truth and worth Never be based! for say they make me Pope-(They can't--suppose it for our argument!) Why, there I'm at my tether's end, I've reached My height, and not a height which pleases you: An unbelieving Pope won't do, you say. It's like those eerie stories nurses tell, Of how some actor on a stage played Death, With pasteboard crown, sham orb and tinselled dart, And called himself the monarch of the world; Then, going in the tire-room afterward, Because the play was done, to shift himself, Got touched upon the sleeve familiarly, The moment he had shut the closet door, By Death himself. Thus God might touch a Pope At unawares, ask what his baubles mean, And whose part he presumed to play just now? Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true! So, drawing comfortable breath again, You weigh and find, whatever more or less I boast of my ideal realized, Is nothing in the balance when opposed To your ideal, your grand simple life, Of which you will not realize one jot. I am much, you are nothing; you would be all, I would be merely much: you beat me there.

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No, friend, you do not beat me: hearken why! The common problem, yours, mine, every one's, Is--not to fancy what were fair in life Provided it could be,--but, finding first What may be, then find how to make it fair Up to our means: a very different thing! No abstract intellectual plan of life Quite irrespective of life's plainest laws,

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But one, a man, who is man and nothing more, May lead within a world which (by your leave) Is Rome or London, not Fool's-paradise. Embellish Rome, idealize away, Make paradise of London if you can, You're welcome, nay, you're wise.

A simile! We mortals cross the ocean of this world Each in his average cabin of a life; The best's not big, the worst yields elbow-room. Now for our six months' voyage--how prepare? You come on shipboard with a landsman's list Of things he calls convenient: so they are! An India screen is pretty furniture, A piano-forte is a fine resource, All Balzac's novels occupy one shelf, The new edition fifty volumes long; And little Greek books, with the funny type They get up well at Leipsic, fill the next: Go on! slabbed marble, what a bath it makes! And Parma's pride, the Jerome, let us add! 'T were pleasant could Correggio's fleeting glow Hang full in face of one where'er one roams, Since he more than the others brings with him Italy's self,--the marvellous Modenese!-Yet was not on your list before, perhaps. --Alas, friend, here's the agent . . . is't the name? The captain, or whoever's master here-You see him screw his face up; what's his cry Ere you set foot on shipboard? "Six feet square!" If you won't understand what six feet mean, Compute and purchase stores accordingly-And if, in pique because he overhauls Your Jerome, piano, bath, you come on board Bare--why, you cut a figure at the first While sympathetic landsmen see you off; Not afterward, when long ere half seas over, You peep up from your utterly naked boards Into some snug and well-appointed berth, Like mine for instance (try the cooler jug-Put back the other, but don't jog the ice!) And mortified you mutter "Well and good; "He sits enjoying his sea-furniture; "'T is stout and proper, and there's store of it: "Though I've the better notion, all agree, "Of fitting rooms up. Hang the carpenter, "Neat ship-shape fixings and contrivances--

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"I would have brought my Jerome, frame and all!" And meantime you bring nothing: never mind-You've proved your artist-nature: what you don't You might bring, so despise me, as I say. Now come, let's backward to the starting-place. See my way: we're two college friends, suppose. Prepare together for our voyage, then; Each note and check the other in his work,-Here's mine, a bishop's outfit; criticize! What's wrong? why won't you be a bishop too? Why first, you don't believe, you don't and can't, (Not statedly, that is, and fixedly And absolutely and exclusively) In any revelation called divine. No dogmas nail your faith; and what remains But say so, like the honest man you are? First, therefore, overhaul theology! Nay, I too, not a fool, you please to think, Must find believing every whit as hard: And if I do not frankly say as much, The ugly consequence is clear enough. Now wait, my friend: well, I do not believe-If you'll accept no faith that is not fixed, Absolute and exclusive, as you say. You're wrong--I mean to prove it in due time. Meanwhile, I know where difficulties lie I could not, cannot solve, nor ever shall, So give up hope accordingly to solve--

(To you, and over the wine). Our dogmas then With both of us, though in unlike degree, Missing full credence--overboard with them! I mean to meet you on your own premise: Good, there go mine in company with yours!

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And now what are we? unbelievers both, Calm and complete, determinately fixed To-day, to-morrow and for ever, pray? You'll guarantee me that? Not so, I think! In no wise! all we've gained is, that belief, As unbelief before, shakes us by fits, Confounds us like its predecessor. Where's The gain? how can we guard our unbelief, Make it bear fruit to us?--the problem here. Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch, A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,

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A chorus-ending from Euripides,-And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears As old and new at once as nature's self, To rap and knock and enter in our soul, Take hands and dance there, a fantastic ring, Round the ancient idol, on his base again,-The grand Perhaps! We look on helplessly. There the old misgivings, crooked questions are-This good God,--what he could do, if he would, Would, if he could--then must have done long since: If so, when, where and how? some way must be,-Once feel about, and soon or late you hit Some sense, in which it might be, after all. Why not, "The Way, the Truth, the Life?" --That way Over the mountain, which who stands upon Is apt to doubt if it be meant for a road; While, if he views it from the waste itself, Up goes the line there, plain from base to brow, Not vague, mistakeable! what's a break or two Seen from the unbroken desert either side? And then (to bring in fresh philosophy) What if the breaks themselves should prove at last The most consummate of contrivances To train a man's eye, teach him what is faith? And so we stumble at truth's very test! All we have gained then by our unbelief Is a life of doubt diversified by faith, For one of faith diversified by doubt: We called the chess-board white,--we call it black. "Well," you rejoin, "the end's no worse, at least; "We've reason for both colours on the board: "Why not confess then, where I drop the faith "And you the doubt, that I'm as right as you?" Because, friend, in the next place, this being so, And both things even,--faith and unbelief Left to a man's choice,--we'll proceed a step, Returning to our image, which I like. A man's choice, yes--but a cabin-passenger's-The man made for the special life o' the world-Do you forget him? I remember though! Consult our ship's conditions and you find One and but one choice suitable to all; The choice, that you unluckily prefer,

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Turning things topsy-turvy--they or it Going to the ground. Belief or unbelief Bears upon life, determines its whole course, Begins at its beginning. See the world Such as it is,--you made it not, nor I; I mean to take it as it is,--and you, Not so you'll take it,--though you get nought else. I know the special kind of life I like, What suits the most my idiosyncrasy, Brings out the best of me and bears me fruit In power, peace, pleasantness and length of days. I find that positive belief does this For me, and unbelief, no whit of this. --For you, it does, however?--that, we'll try! 'T is clear, I cannot lead my life, at least, Induce the world to let me peaceably, Without declaring at the outset, "Friends, "I absolutely and peremptorily "Believe!"--I say, faith is my waking life: One sleeps, indeed, and dreams at intervals, We know, but waking's the main point with us And my provision's for life's waking part. Accordingly, I use heart, head and hand All day, I build, scheme, study, and make friends; And when night overtakes me, down I lie, Sleep, dream a little, and get done with it, The sooner the better, to begin afresh. What's midnight doubt before the dayspring's faith? You, the philosopher, that disbelieve, That recognize the night, give dreams their weight-To be consistent you should keep your bed, Abstain from healthy acts that prove you man, For fear you drowse perhaps at unawares! And certainly at night you'll sleep and dream, Live through the day and bustle as you please. And so you live to sleep as I to wake, To unbelieve as I to still believe? Well, and the common sense o' the world calls you Bed-ridden,--and its good things come to me. Its estimation, which is half the fight, That's the first-cabin comfort I secure: The next . . . but you perceive with half an eye! Come, come, it's best believing, if we may; You can't but own that! Next, concede again, If once we choose belief, on all accounts We can't be too decisive in our faith,

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Conclusive and exclusive in its terms, To suit the world which gives us the good things. In every man's career are certain points Whereon he dares not be indifferent; The world detects him clearly, if he dare, As baffled at the game, and losing life. He may care little or he may care much For riches, honour, pleasure, work, repose, Since various theories of life and life's Success are extant which might easily Comport with either estimate of these; And whoso chooses wealth or poverty, Labour or quiet, is not judged a fool Because his fellow would choose otherwise: We let him choose upon his own account So long as he's consistent with his choice. But certain points, left wholly to himself, When once a man has arbitrated on, We say he must succeed there or go hang. Thus, he should wed the woman he loves most Or needs most, whatsoe'er the love or need-For he can't wed twice. Then, he must avouch, Or follow, at the least, sufficiently, The form of faith his conscience holds the best, Whate'er the process of conviction was: For nothing can compensate his mistake On such a point, the man himself being judge: He cannot wed twice, nor twice lose his soul.

Well now, there's one great form of Christian faith I happened to be born in--which to teach Was given me as I grew up, on all hands, As best and readiest means of living by; The same on examination being proved The most pronounced moreover, fixed, precise And absolute form of faith in the whole world-Accordingly, most potent of all forms For working on the world. Observe, my friend! Such as you know me, I am free to say, In these hard latter days which hamper one, Myself--by no immoderate exercise Of intellect and learning, but the tact To let external forces work for me, --Bid the street's stones be bread and they are bread; Bid Peter's creed, or rather, Hildebrand's, Exalt me o'er my fellows in the world And make my life an ease and joy and pride; It does so,--which for me's a great point gained,

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Who have a soul and body that exact A comfortable care in many ways. There's power in me and will to dominate Which I must exercise, they hurt me else: In many ways I need mankind's respect, Obedience, and the love that's born of fear: While at the same time, there's a taste I have, A toy of soul, a titillating thing, Refuses to digest these dainties crude. The naked life is gross till clothed upon: I must take what men offer, with a grace As though I would not, could I help it, take! An uniform I wear though over-rich-Something imposed on me, no choice of mine; No fancy-dress worn for pure fancy's sake And despicable therefore! now folk kneel And kiss my hand--of course the Church's hand. Thus I am made, thus life is best for me, And thus that it should be I have procured; And thus it could not be another way, I venture to imagine. You'll reply, So far my choice, no doubt, is a success; But were I made of better elements, With nobler instincts, purer tastes, like you, I hardly would account the thing success Though it did all for me I say.

But, friend, We speak of what is; not of what might be, And how't were better if't were otherwise. I am the man you see here plain enough: Grant I'm a beast, why, beasts must lead beasts' lives! Suppose I own at once to tail and claws; The tailless man exceeds me: but being tailed I'll lash out lion fashion, and leave apes To dock their stump and dress their haunches up. My business is not to remake myself, But make the absolute best of what God made. Or--our first simile--though you prove me doomed To a viler berth still, to the steerage-hole, The sheep-pen or the pig-stye, I should strive To make what use of each were possible; And as this cabin gets upholstery, That hutch should rustle with sufficient straw. But, friend, I don't acknowledge quite so fast I fail of all your manhood's lofty tastes
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Enumerated so complacently, On the mere ground that you forsooth can find In this particular life I choose to lead No fit provision for them. Can you not? Say you, my fault is I address myself To grosser estimators than should judge? And that's no way of holding up the soul, Which, nobler, needs men's praise perhaps, yet knows One wise man's verdict outweighs all the fools'-Would like the two, but, forced to choose, takes that. I pine among my million imbeciles (You think) aware some dozen men of sense Eye me and know me, whether I believe In the last winking Virgin, as I vow, And am a fool, or disbelieve in her And am a knave,--approve in neither case, Withhold their voices though I look their way: Like Verdi when, at his worst opera's end (The thing they gave at Florence,--what's its name?) While the mad houseful's plaudits near out-bang His orchestra of salt-box, tongs and bones, He looks through all the roaring and the wreaths Where sits Rossini patient in his stall. Nay, friend, I meet you with an answer here-That even your prime men who appraise their kind

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Are men still, catch a wheel within a wheel, See more in a truth than the truth's simple self, Confuse themselves. You see lads walk the street Sixty the minute; what's to note in that? You see one lad o'erstride a chimney-stack; Him you must watch--he's sure to fall, yet stands! Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things. The honest thief, the tender murderer, The superstitious atheist, demirep That loves and saves her soul in new French books-We watch while these in equilibrium keep The giddy line midway: one step aside, They're classed and done with. I, then, keep the line Before your sages,--just the men to shrink From the gross weights, coarse scales and labels broad You offer their refinement. Fool or knave? Why needs a bishop be a fool or knave When there's a thousand diamond weights between? So, I enlist them. Your picked twelve, you'll find, Profess themselves indignant, scandalized At thus being held unable to explain How a superior man who disbelieves May not believe as well: that's Schelling's way!

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It's through my coming in the tail of time, Nicking the minute with a happy tact. Had I been born three hundred years ago They'd say, "What's strange? Blougram of course believes;" And, seventy years since, "disbelieves of course." But now, "He may believe; and yet, and yet "How can he?" All eyes turn with interest. Whereas, step off the line on either side-You, for example, clever to a fault, The rough and ready man who write apace, Read somewhat seldomer, think perhaps even less-You disbelieve! Who wonders and who cares? Lord So-and-so--his coat bedropped with wax, All Peter's chains about his waist, his back Brave with the needlework of Noodledom-Believes! Again, who wonders and who cares? But I, the man of sense and learning too, The able to think yet act, the this, the that, I, to believe at this late time of day! Enough; you see, I need not fear contempt. --Except it's yours! Admire me as these may, You don't. But whom at least do you admire? Present your own perfection, your ideal, Your pattern man for a minute--oh, make haste Is it Napoleon you would have us grow? Concede the means; allow his head and hand, (A large concession, clever as you are)

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Good! In our common primal element Of unbelief (we can't believe, you know-We're still at that admission, recollect!) Where do you find--apart from, towering o'er The secondary temporary aims Which satisfy the gross taste you despise-Where do you find his star?--his crazy trust God knows through what or in what? it's alive And shines and leads him, and that's all we want. Have we aught in our sober night shall point Such ends as his were, and direct the means Of working out our purpose straight as his, Nor bring a moment's trouble on success With after-care to justify the same? --Be a Napoleon, and yet disbelieve-Why, the man's mad, friend, take his light away! What's the vague good o' the world, for which you dare With comfort to yourself blow millions up? We neither of us see it! we do see The blown-up millions--spatter of their brains

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And writhing of their bowels and so forth, In that bewildering entanglement Of horrible eventualities Past calculation to the end of time! Can I mistake for some clear word of God (Which were my ample warrant for it all) His puff of hazy instinct, idle talk, "The State, that's I," quack-nonsense about crowns, And (when one beats the man to his last hold) A vague idea of setting things to rights, Policing people efficaciously, More to their profit, most of all to his own; The whole to end that dismallest of ends By an Austrian marriage, cant to us the Church, And resurrection of the old régime ? Would I, who hope to live a dozen years, Fight Austerlitz for reasons such and such? No: for, concede me but the merest chance Doubt may be wrong--there's judgment, life to come! With just that chance, I dare not. Doubt proves right? This present life is all?--you offer me Its dozen noisy years, without a chance That wedding an archduchess, wearing lace, And getting called by divers new-coined names, Will drive off ugly thoughts and let me dine, Sleep, read and chat in quiet as I like! Therefore I will not. Take another case; Fit up the cabin yet another way. What say you to the poets? shall we write Hamlet, Othello--make the world our own,

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Without a risk to run of either sort? I can't--to put the strongest reason first. "But try," you urge, "the trying shall suffice; "The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: "Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!" Spare my self-knowledge--there's no fooling me! If I prefer remaining my poor self, I say so not in self-dispraise but praise. If I'm a Shakespeare, let the well alone; Why should I try to be what now I am? If I'm no Shakespeare, as too probable,-His power and consciousness and self-delight And all we want in common, shall I find-Trying for ever? while on points of taste Wherewith, to speak it humbly, he and I Are dowered alike--I'll ask you, I or he,

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Which in our two lives realizes most? Much, he imagined--somewhat, I possess. He had the imagination; stick to that! Let him say, "In the face of my soul's works "Your world is worthless and I touch it not "Lest I should wrong them"--I'll withdraw my plea. But does he say so? look upon his life! Himself, who only can, gives judgment there. He leaves his towers and gorgeous palaces To build the trimmest house in Stratford town; Saves money, spends it, owns the worth of things, Giulio Romano's pictures, Dowland's lute; Enjoys a show, respects the puppets, too, And none more, had he seen its entry once, Than "Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal." Why then should I who play that personage, The very Pandulph Shakespeare's fancy made, Be told that had the poet chanced to start From where I stand now (some degree like mine Being just the goal he ran his race to reach) He would have run the whole race back, forsooth, And left being Pandulph, to begin write plays? Ah, the earth's best can be but the earth's best! Did Shakespeare live, he could but sit at home And get himself in dreams the Vatican, Greek busts, Venetian paintings, Roman walls, And English books, none equal to his own, Which I read, bound in gold (he never did). --Terni's fall, Naples' bay and Gothard's top-Eh, friend? I could not fancy one of these; But, as I pour this claret, there they are: I've gained them--crossed St. Gothard last July With ten mules to the carriage and a bed Slung inside; is my hap the worse for that? We want the same things, Shakespeare and myself, And what I want, I have: he, gifted more, Could fancy he too had them when he liked, But not so thoroughly that, if fate allowed, He would not have them also in my sense. We play one game; I send the ball aloft No less adroitly that of fifty strokes Scarce five go o'er the wall so wide and high Which sends them back to me: I wish and get He struck balls higher and with better skill, But at a poor fence level with his head, And hit--his Stratford house, a coat of arms, Successful dealings in his grain and wool,-While I receive heaven's incense in my nose

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And style myself the cousin of Queen Bess. Ask him, if this life's all, who wins the game?

Believe--and our whole argument breaks up. Enthusiasm's the best thing, I repeat; Only, we can't command it; fire and life Are all, dead matter's nothing, we agree: And be it a mad dream or God's very breath, The fact's the same,--belief's fire, once in us, Makes of all else mere stuff to show itself: We penetrate our life with such a glow As fire lends wood and iron--this turns steel, That burns to ash--all's one, fire proves its power For good or ill, since men call flare success. But paint a fire, it will not therefore burn. Light one in me, I'll find it food enough! Why, to be Luther--that's a life to lead, Incomparably better than my own. He comes, reclaims God's earth for God, he says, Sets up God's rule again by simple means, Re-opens a shut book, and all is done. He flared out in the flaring of mankind; Such Luther's luck was: how shall such be mine? If he succeeded, nothing's left to do: And if he did not altogether--well, Strauss is the next advance. All Strauss should be I might be also. But to what result? He looks upon no future: Luther did. What can I gain on the denying side? Ice makes no conflagration. State the facts, Read the text right, emancipate the world-The emancipated world enjoys itself With scarce a thank-you: Blougram told it first It could not owe a farthing,--not to him More than Saint Paul! 't would press its pay, you think? Then add there's still that plaguy hundredth chance Strauss may be wrong. And so a risk is run-For what gain? not for Luther's, who secured A real heaven in his heart throughout his life, Supposing death a little altered things. "Ay, but since really you lack faith," you cry, "You run the same risk really on all sides, "In cool indifference as bold unbelief. "As well be Strauss as swing 'twixt Paul and him. "It's not worth having, such imperfect faith, "No more available to do faith's work "Than unbelief like mine. Whole faith, or none!"

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Softly, my friend! I must dispute that point Once own the use of faith, I'll find you faith. We're back on Christian ground. You call for faith: I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists. The more of doubt, the stronger faith, I say, If faith o'ercomes doubt. How I know it does? By life and man's free will, God gave for that! To mould life as we choose it, shows our choice: That's our one act, the previous work's his own. You criticize the soul? it reared this tree-This broad life and whatever fruit it bears! What matter though I doubt at every pore, Head-doubts, heart-doubts, doubts at my fingers' ends, Doubts in the trivial work of every day, Doubts at the very bases of my soul In the grand moments when she probes herself-If finally I have a life to show, The thing I did, brought out in evidence Against the thing done to me underground By hell and all its brood, for aught I know? I say, whence sprang this? shows it faith or doubt? All's doubt in me; where's break of faith in this? It is the idea, the feeling and the love, God means mankind should strive for and show forth Whatever be the process to that end,-And not historic knowledge, logic sound, And metaphysical acumen, sure! "What think ye of Christ," friend? when all's done and said, Like you this Christianity or not? It may be false, but will you wish it true? Has it your vote to be so if it can? Trust you an instinct silenced long ago That will break silence and enjoin you love What mortified philosophy is hoarse, And all in vain, with bidding you despise? If you desire faith--then you've faith enough: What else seeks God--nay, what else seek ourselves? You form a notion of me, we'll suppose, On hearsay; it's a favourable one: "But still" (you add), "there was no such good man, "Because of contradiction in the facts. "One proves, for instance, he was born in Rome, "This Blougram; yet throughout the tales of him "I see he figures as an Englishman." Well, the two things are reconcileable. But would I rather you discovered that, Subjoining--"Still, what matter though they be?

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"Blougram concerns me nought, born here or there." Pure faith indeed--you know not what you ask! Naked belief in God the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, sears too much The sense of conscious creatures to be borne. It were the seeing him, no flesh shall dare Some think, Creation's meant to show him forth: I say it's meant to hide him all it can, And that's what all the blessed evil's for. Its use in Time is to environ us, Our breath, our drop of dew, with shield enough Against that sight till we can bear its stress. Under a vertical sun, the exposed brain And lidless eye and disemprisoned heart Less certainly would wither up at once Than mind, confronted with the truth of him. But time and earth case-harden us to live; The feeblest sense is trusted most; the child Feels God a moment, ichors o'er the place, Plays on and grows to be a man like us. With me, faith means perpetual unbelief Kept quiet like the snake 'neath Michael's foot Who stands calm just because he feels it writhe. Or, if that's too ambitious,--here's my box-I need the excitation of a pinch Threatening the torpor of the inside-nose Nigh on the imminent sneeze that never comes. "Leave it in peace" advise the simple folk: Make it aware of peace by itching-fits, Say I--let doubt occasion still more faith!

You'll say, once all believed, man, woman, child, In that dear middle-age these noodles praise. How you'd exult if I could put you back Six hundred years, blot out cosmogony, Geology, ethnology, what not (Greek endings, each the little passing-bell That signifies some faith's about to die), And set you square with Genesis again,-When such a traveller told you his last news, He saw the ark a-top of Ararat But did not climb there since 't was getting dusk And robber-bands infest the mountain's foot! How should you feel, I ask, in such an age, How act? As other people felt and did; With soul more blank than this decanter's knob, Believe--and yet lie, kill, rob, fornicate

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Full in belief's face, like the beast you'd be!

No, when the fight begins within himself, A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his head, Satan looks up between his feet--both tug-He's left, himself, i' the middle: the soul wakes And grows. Prolong that battle through his life! Never leave growing till the life to come! Here, we've got callous to the Virgin's winks That used to puzzle people wholesomely: Men have outgrown the shame of being fools. What are the laws of nature, not to bend If the Church bid them?--brother Newman asks. Up with the Immaculate Conception, then-On to the rack with faith!--is my advice. Will not that hurry us upon our knees, Knocking our breasts, "It can't be--yet it shall! "Who am I, the worm, to argue with my Pope? "Low things confound the high things!" and so forth. That's better than acquitting God with grace As some folk do. He's tried--no case is proved, Philosophy is lenient--he may go! You'll say, the old system's not so obsolete But men believe still: ay, but who and where?

King Bomba's lazzaroni foster yet The sacred flame, so Antonelli writes; But even of these, what ragamuffin-saint Believes God watches him continually, As he believes in fire that it will burn, Or rain that it will drench him? Break fire's law, Sin against rain, although the penalty Be just a singe or soaking? "No," he smiles; "Those laws are laws that can enforce themselves."

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The sum of all is--yes, my doubt is great, My faith's still greater, then my faith's enough. I have read much, thought much, experienced much, Yet would die rather than avow my fear The Naples' liquefaction may be false, When set to happen by the palace-clock According to the clouds or dinner-time. I hear you recommend, I might at least Eliminate, decrassify my faith Since I adopt it; keeping what I must And leaving what I can--such points as this. I won't--that is, I can't throw one away. Supposing there's no truth in what I hold About the need of trial to man's faith, Still, when you bid me purify the same,

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To such a process I discern no end. Clearing off one excrescence to see two, There's ever a next in size, now grown as big, That meets the knife: I cut and cut again! First cut the Liquefaction, what comes last But Fichte's clever cut at God himself? Experimentalize on sacred things! I trust nor hand nor eye nor heart nor brain To stop betimes: they all get drunk alike. The first step, I am master not to take.

You'd find the cutting-process to your taste As much as leaving growths of lies unpruned, Nor see more danger in it,--you retort. Your taste's worth mine; but my taste proves more wise When we consider that the steadfast hold On the extreme end of the chain of faith Gives all the advantage, makes the difference With the rough purblind mass we seek to rule: We are their lords, or they are free of us, Just as we tighten or relax our hold. So, others matters equal, we'll revert To the first problem--which, if solved my way And thrown into the balance, turns the scale-How we may lead a comfortable life, How suit our luggage to the cabin's size. Of course you are remarking all this time How narrowly and grossly I view life, Respect the creature-comforts, care to rule The masses, and regard complacently "The cabin," in our old phrase. Well, I do. I act for, talk for, live for this world now, As this world prizes action, life and talk: No prejudice to what next world may prove, Whose new laws and requirements, my best pledge To observe then, is that I observe these now, Shall do hereafter what I do meanwhile. Let us concede (gratuitously though) Next life relieves the soul of body, yields Pure spiritual enjoyment: well, my friend, Why lose this life i' the meantime, since its use May be to make the next life more intense? Do you know, I have often had a dream (Work it up in your next month's article) Of man's poor spirit in its progress, still Losing true life for ever and a day

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Through ever trying to be and ever being-In the evolution of successive spheres-Before its actual sphere and place of life, Halfway into the next, which having reached, It shoots with corresponding foolery Halfway into the next still, on and off! As when a traveller, bound from North to South, Scouts fur in Russia: what's its use in France? In France spurns flannel: where's its need in Spain? In Spain drops cloth, too cumbrous for Algiers! Linen goes next, and last the skin itself, A superfluity at Timbuctoo. When, through his journey, was the fool at ease? I'm at ease now, friend; worldly in this world, I take and like its way of life; I think My brothers, who administer the means, Live better for my comfort--that's good too; And God, if he pronounce upon such life, Approves my service, which is better still. If he keep silence,--why, for you or me Or that brute beast pulled-up in to-day's "Times," What odds is't, save to ourselves, what life we lead? You meet me at this issue: you declare,-All special-pleading done with--truth is truth, And justifies itself by undreamed ways. You don't fear but it's better, if we doubt, To say so, act up to our truth perceived However feebly. Do then,--act away! 'T is there I'm on the watch for you. How one acts Is, both of us agree, our chief concern: And how you'll act is what I fain would see If, like the candid person you appear, You dare to make the most of your life's scheme As I of mine, live up to its full law Since there's no higher law that counterchecks. Put natural religion to the test You've just demolished the revealed with--quick, Down to the root of all that checks your will, All prohibition to lie, kill and thieve, Or even to be an atheistic priest! Suppose a pricking to incontinence-Philosophers deduce you chastity Or shame, from just the fact that at the first Whoso embraced a woman in the field, Threw club down and forewent his brains beside, So, stood a ready victim in the reach Of any brother savage, club in hand;

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Hence saw the use of going out of sight In wood or cave to prosecute his loves: I read this in a French book t' other day. Does law so analysed coerce you much? Oh, men spin clouds of fuzz where matters end, But you who reach where the first thread begins, You'll soon cut that!--which means you can, but won't, Through certain instincts, blind, unreasoned-out, You dare not set aside, you can't tell why, But there they are, and so you let them rule. Then, friend, you seem as much a slave as I, A liar, conscious coward and hypocrite, Without the good the slave expects to get, In case he has a master after all! You own your instincts? why, what else do I, Who want, am made for, and must have a God Ere I can be aught, do aught?--no mere name Want, but the true thing with what proves its truth, To wit, a relation from that thing to me, Touching from head to foot--which touch I feel, And with it take the rest, this life of ours! I live my life here; yours you dare not live. --Not as I state it, who (you please subjoin) Disfigure such a life and call it names, While, to your mind, remains another way For simple men: knowledge and power have rights, But ignorance and weakness have rights too. There needs no crucial effort to find truth If here or there or anywhere about: We ought to turn each side, try hard and see, And if we can't, be glad we've earned at least The right, by one laborious proof the more, To graze in peace earth's pleasant pasturage. Men are not angels, neither are they brutes: Something we may see, all we cannot see. What need of lying? I say, I see all, And swear to each detail the most minute In what I think a Pan's face--you, mere cloud: I swear I hear him speak and see him wink, For fear, if once I drop the emphasis, Mankind may doubt there's any cloud at all. You take the simple life--ready to see, Willing to see (for no cloud's worth a face)-And leaving quiet what no strength can move, And which, who bids you move? who has the right? I bid you; but you are God's sheep, not mine: " Pastor est tui Dominus ." You find

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In this the pleasant pasture of our life Much you may eat without the least offence, Much you don't eat because your maw objects, Much you would eat but that your fellow-flock Open great eyes at you and even butt, And thereupon you like your mates so well You cannot please yourself, offending them; Though when they seem exorbitantly sheep, You weigh your pleasure with their butts and bleats And strike the balance. Sometimes certain fears Restrain you, real checks since you find them so; Sometimes you please yourself and nothing checks: And thus you graze through life with not one lie, And like it best.

But do you, in truth's name? If so, you beat--which means you are not I-Who needs must make earth mine and feed my fill Not simply unbutted at, unbickered with, But motioned to the velvet of the sward By those obsequious wethers' very selves. Look at me, sir; my age is double yours: At yours, I knew beforehand, so enjoyed, What now I should be--as, permit the word, I pretty well imagine your whole range And stretch of tether twenty years to come. We both have minds and bodies much alike: In truth's name, don't you want my bishopric, My daily bread, my influence and my state? You're young. I'm old; you must be old one day; Will you find then, as I do hour by hour, Women their lovers kneel to, who cut curls From your fat lap-dog's ear to grace a brooch-Dukes, who petition just to kiss your ring-With much beside you know or may conceive? Suppose we die to-night: well, here am I, Such were my gains, life bore this fruit to me, While writing all the same my articles On music, poetry, the fictile vase Found at Albano, chess, Anacreon's Greek. But you--the highest honour in your life, The thing you'll crown yourself with, all your days, Is--dining here and drinking this last glass I pour you out in sign of amity Before we part for ever. Of your power And social influence, worldly worth in short, Judge what's my estimation by the fact, I do not condescend to enjoin, beseech,

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Hint secrecy on one of all these words! You're shrewd and know that should you publish one The world would brand the lie--my enemies first, Who'd sneer--"the bishop's an arch-hypocrite "And knave perhaps, but not so frank a fool." Whereas I should not dare for both my ears Breathe one such syllable, smile one such smile, Before the chaplain who reflects myself-My shade's so much more potent than your flesh. What's your reward, self-abnegating friend? Stood you confessed of those exceptional And privileged great natures that dwarf mine-A zealot with a mad ideal in reach, A poet just about to print his ode, A statesman with a scheme to stop this war, An artist whose religion is his art-I should have nothing to object: such men Carry the fire, all things grow warm to them, Their drugget's worth my purple, they beat me. But you,--you're just as little those as I-You, Gigadibs, who, thirty years of age, Write statedly for Blackwood's Magazine, Believe you see two points in Hamlet's soul Unseized by the Germans yet--which view you'll print-Meantime the best you have to show being still That lively lightsome article we took Almost for the true Dickens,--what's its name? "The Slum and Cellar, or Whitechapel life "Limned after dark!" it made me laugh, I know, And pleased a month, and brought you in ten pounds. --Success I recognize and compliment, And therefore give you, if you choose, three words (The card and pencil-scratch is quite enough) Which whether here, in Dublin or New York, Will get you, prompt as at my eyebrow's wink, Such terms as never you aspired to get In all our own reviews and some not ours. Go write your lively sketches! be the first "Blougram, or The Eccentric Confidence"-Or better simply say, "The Outward-bound." Why, men as soon would throw it in my teeth As copy and quote the infamy chalked broad About me on the church-door opposite. You will not wait for that experience though, I fancy, howsoever you decide, To discontinue--not detesting, not Defaming, but at least--despising me!
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Over his wine so smiled and talked his hour Sylvester Blougram, styled in partibus Episcopus, nec non --(the deuce knows what It's changed to by our novel hierarchy) With Gigadibs the literary man, Who played with spoons, explored his plate's design, And ranged the olive-stones about its edge, While the great bishop rolled him out a mind Long crumpled, till creased consciousness lay smooth. For Blougram, he believed, say, half he spoke. The other portion, as he shaped it thus For argumentatory purposes, He felt his foe was foolish to dispute. Some arbitrary accidental thoughts That crossed his mind, amusing because new, He chose to represent as fixtures there, Invariable convictions (such they seemed Beside his interlocutor's loose cards Flung daily down, and not the same way twice)

While certain hell deep instincts, man's weak tongue Is never bold to utter in their truth Because styled hell-deep ('t is an old mistake To place hell at the bottom of the earth) He ignored these,--not having in readiness Their nomenclature and philosophy: He said true things, but called them by wrong names. "On the whole," he thought, "I justify myself "On every point where cavillers like this "Oppugn my life: he tries one kind of fence, "I close, he's worsted, that's enough for him. "He's on the ground: if ground should break away "I take my stand on, there's a firmer yet "Beneath it, both of us may sink and reach. "His ground was over mine and broke the first: "So, let him sit with me this many a year!" He did not sit five minutes. Just a week Sufficed his sudden healthy vehemence. Something had struck him in the "Outward-bound" Another way than Blougram's purpose was: And having bought, not cabin-furniture But settler's-implements (enough for three) And started for Australia--there, I hope, By this time he has tested his first plough, And studied his last chapter of St. John. Robert Browning

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Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church, Rome, The Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? Nephews--sons mine . . . ah God, I know not! Well-She, men would have to be your mother once, Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! What's done is done, and she is dead beside, Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since, And as she died so must we die ourselves, And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream. Life, how and what is it? As here I lie In this state-chamber, dying by degrees, Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all. Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: --Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care; Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, And up into the aery dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse. --Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone, Put me where I may look at him! True peach, Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! Draw close: that conflagration of my church --What then? So much was saved if aught were missed! My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood, Drop water gently till the surface sink, And if ye find . . . Ah God, I know not, I! ... Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft, And corded up in a tight olive-frail, Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast ... Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, That brave Frascati villa with its bath, So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, Like God the Father's globe on both His hands Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay, For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?

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Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black-'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, And Moses with the tables . . . but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve. My bath must needs be left behind, alas! One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut, There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world-And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts, And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs? --That's if ye carve my epitaph aright, Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line-Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need! And then how I shall lie through centuries, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, Dying in state and by such slow degrees, I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook, And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point, And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work: And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, About the life before I lived this life, And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests, Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes, And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet, --Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best! Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage. All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick, They glitter like your mother's for my soul,

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Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze, Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term, And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down, To comfort me on my entablature Whereon I am to lie till I must ask "Do I live, am I dead?" There, leave me, there! For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude To death--ye wish it--God, ye wish it! Stone-Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which sweat As if the corpse they keep were oozing through-And no more lapis to delight the world! Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there, But in a row: and, going, turn your backs --Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, And leave me in my church, the church for peace, That I may watch at leisure if he leers-Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone, As still he envied me, so fair she was!

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Boot and Saddle Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! Rescue my Castle, before the hot day Brightens the blue from its silvery grey,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say; Many's the friend there, will listen and pray "God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay, Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads array: Who laughs, Good fellows ere this, by my fay, (Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay, Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay! I've better counsellors; what counsel they?" (Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" Robert Browning

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Boy And the Angel, The Morning, evening, noon and night, ``Praise God!; sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned, Whereby the daily meal was earned. Hard he laboured, long and well; O'er his work the boy's curls fell.

But ever, at each period, He stopped and sang, ``Praise God!'' Then back again his curls he threw, And cheerful turned to work anew.

Said Blaise, the listening monk, ``Well done; ``I doubt not thou art heard, my son: ``As well as if thy voice to-day ``Were praising God, the Pope's great way. ``This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome ``Praises God from Peter's dome.''

Said Theocrite, ``Would God that I ``Might praise him, that great way, and die!'' Night passed, day shone, And Theocrite was gone.

With God a day endures alway, A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, ``Nor day nor night ``Now brings the voice of my delight.'' Then Gabriel, like a rainbow's birth, Spread his wings and sank to earth;

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell, Lived there, and played the craftsman well; And morning, evening, noon and night, Praised God in place of Theocrite. And from a boy, to youth he grew: The man put off the stripling's hue: The man matured and fell away Into the season of decay:
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And ever o'er the trade he bent,

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And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God's will; to him, all one If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, ``A praise is in mine ear; ``There is no doubt in it, no fear:

``So sing old worlds, and so ``New worlds that from my footstool go. ``Clearer loves sound other ways: ``I miss my little human praise.''

Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell The flesh disguise, remained the cell. 'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome, And paused above Saint Peter's dome. In the tiring-room close by The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight, Stood the new Pope, Theocrite: And all his past career Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade, Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near, An angel in a dream brought cheer: And rising from the sickness drear He grew a priest, and now stood here. To the East with praise he turned, And on his sight the angel burned.

``I bore thee from thy craftsman's cell ``And set thee here; I did not well. ``Vainly I left my angel-sphere, ``Vain was thy dream of many a year.

``Thy voice's praise seemed weak; it dropped--``Creation's chorus stopped! ``Go back and praise again ``The early way, while I remain.

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``With that weak voice of our disdain, ``Take up creation's pausing strain.

``Back to the cell and poor employ: ``Resume the craftsman and the boy!'' Theocrite grew old at home; A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome. One vanished as the other died: They sought God side by side. Robert Browning

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By The Fire-Side I. How well I know what I mean to do When the long dark autumn-evenings come: And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue? With the music of all thy voices, dumb In life's November too! I shall be found by the fire, suppose, O'er a great wise book as beseemeth age, While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows And I turn the page, and I turn the page, Not verse now, only prose! Till the young ones whisper, finger on lip, ``There he is at it, deep in Greek: ``Now then, or never, out we slip ``To cut from the hazels by the creek ``A mainmast for our ship!'' I shall be at it indeed, my friends: Greek puts already on either side Such a branch-work forth as soon extends To a vista opening far and wide, And I pass out where it ends. The outside-frame, like your hazel-trees: But the inside-archway widens fast, And a rarer sort succeeds to these, And we slope to Italy at last And youth, by green degrees. I follow wherever I am led, Knowing so well the leader's hand: Oh woman-country, wooed not wed, Loved all the more by earth's male-lands, Laid to their hearts instead! Look at the ruined chapel again Half-way up in the Alpine gorge! VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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Is that a tower, I point you plain, Or is it a mill, or an iron-forge Breaks solitude in vain? A turn, and we stand in the heart of things: The woods are round us, heaped and dim; From slab to slab how it slips and springs, The thread of water single and slim, Through the ravage some torrent brings! Does it feed the little lake below? That speck of white just on its marge Is Pella; see, in the evening-glow, How sharp the silver spear-heads charge When Alp meets heaven in snow! On our other side is the straight-up rock; And a path is kept 'twixt the gorge and it By boulder-stones where lichens mock The marks on a moth, and small ferns fit Their teeth to the polished block. Oh the sense of the yellow mountain-flowers, And thorny balls, each three in one, The chestnuts throw on our path in showers! For the drop of the woodland fruit's begun, These early November hours, That crimson the creeper's leaf across Like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt, O'er a shield else gold from rim to boss, And lay it for show on the fairy-cupped Elf-needled mat of moss, By the rose-flesh mushrooms, undivulged Last evening---nay, in to-day's first dew Yon sudden coral nipple bulged, Where a freaked fawn-coloured flaky crew Of toadstools peep indulged.
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VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

And yonder, at foot of the fronting ridge That takes the turn to a range beyond, Is the chapel reached by the one-arched bridge Where the water is stopped in a stagnant pond Danced over by the midge. The chapel and bridge are of stone alike, Blackish-grey and mostly wet; Cut hemp-stalks steep in the narrow dyke. See here again, how the lichens fret And the roots of the ivy strike! Poor little place, where its one priest comes On a festa-day, if he comes at all, To the dozen folk from their scattered homes, Gathered within that precinct small By the dozen ways one roams--To drop from the charcoal-burners' huts, Or climb from the hemp-dressers' low shed, Leave the grange where the woodman stores his nuts, Or the wattled cote where the fowlers spread Their gear on the rock's bare juts. It has some pretension too, this front, With its bit of fresco half-moon-wise Set over the porch, Art's early wont: 'Tis John in the Desert, I surmise, But has borne the weather's brunt--Not from the fault of the builder, though, For a pent-house properly projects Where three carved beams make a certain show, Dating---good thought of our architect's--'Five, six, nine, he lets you know. And all day long a bird sings there, And a stray sheep drinks at the pond at times; XX. XIX. XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV.

XIV.

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The place is silent and aware; It has had its scenes, its joys and crimes, But that is its own affair. My perfect wife, my Leonor, Oh heart, my own, oh eyes, mine too, Whom else could I dare look backward for, With whom beside should I dare pursue The path grey heads abhor? For it leads to a crag's sheer edge with them; Youth, flowery all the way, there stops--Not they; age threatens and they contemn, Till they reach the gulf wherein youth drops, One inch from life's safe hem! With me, youth led ... I will speak now, No longer watch you as you sit Reading by fire-light, that great brow And the spirit-small hand propping it, Mutely, my heart knows how--When, if I think but deep enough, You are wont to answer, prompt as rhyme; And you, too, find without rebuff Response your soul seeks many a time Piercing its fine flesh-stuff. My own, confirm me! If I tread This path back, is it not in pride To think how little I dreamed it led To an age so blest that, by its side, Youth seems the waste instead? My own, see where the years conduct! At first, 'twas something our two souls Should mix as mists do; each is sucked In each now: on, the new stream rolls, Whatever rocks obstruct.
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XXI.

XXII.

XXIII.

XXIV.

XXV.

XXVI.

Think, when our one soul understands The great Word which makes all things new, When earth breaks up and heaven expands, How will the change strike me and you ln the house not made with hands? Oh I must feel your brain prompt mine, Your heart anticipate my heart, You must be just before, in fine, See and make me see, for your part, New depths of the divine! But who could have expected this When we two drew together first Just for the obvious human bliss, To satisfy life's daily thirst With a thing men seldom miss? Come back with me to the first of all, Let us lean and love it over again, Let us now forget and now recall, Break the rosary in a pearly rain, And gather what we let fall! What did I say?---that a small bird sings All day long, save when a brown pair Of hawks from the wood float with wide wings Strained to a bell: 'gainst noon-day glare You count the streaks and rings. But at afternoon or almost eve 'Tis better; then the silence grows To that degree, you half believe It must get rid of what it knows, Its bosom does so heave. Hither we walked then, side by side, Arm in arm and cheek to cheek, XXXIII. XXXII. XXXI. XXX. XXIX. XXVIII.

XXVII.

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And still I questioned or replied, While my heart, convulsed to really speak, Lay choking in its pride. Silent the crumbling bridge we cross, And pity and praise the chapel sweet, And care about the fresco's loss, And wish for our souls a like retreat, And wonder at the moss. Stoop and kneel on the settle under, Look through the window's grated square: Nothing to see! For fear of plunder, The cross is down and the altar bare, As if thieves don't fear thunder. We stoop and look in through the grate, See the little porch and rustic door, Read duly the dead builder's date; Then cross the bridge that we crossed before, Take the path again---but wait! Oh moment, one and infinite! The water slips o'er stock and stone; The West is tender, hardly bright: How grey at once is the evening grown--One star, its chrysolite! We two stood there with never a third, But each by each, as each knew well: The sights we saw and the sounds we heard, The lights and the shades made up a spell Till the trouble grew and stirred. Oh, the little more, and how much it is! And the little less, and what worlds away! How a sound shall quicken content to bliss, Or a breath suspend the blood's best play, And life be a proof of this!
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XXXIV.

XXXV.

XXXVI.

XXXVII.

XXXVIII.

XXXIX.

Had she willed it, still had stood the screen So slight, so sure, 'twixt my love and her: I could fix her face with a guard between, And find her soul as when friends confer, Friends---lovers that might have been. For my heart had a touch of the woodland-time, Wanting to sleep now over its best. Shake the whole tree in the summer-prime, But bring to the Iast leaf no such test! ``Hold the last fast!'' runs the rhyme. For a chance to make your little much, To gain a lover and lose a friend, Venture the tree and a myriad such, When nothing you mar but the year can mend: But a last leaf---fear to touch! Yet should it unfasten itself and fall Eddying down till it find your face At some slight wind---best chance of all! Be your heart henceforth its dwelling-place You trembled to forestall! Worth how well, those dark grey eyes, That hair so dark and dear, how worth That a man should strive and agonize, And taste a veriest hell on earth For the hope of such a prize! You might have turned and tried a man, Set him a space to weary and wear, And prove which suited more your plan, His best of hope or his worst despair, Yet end as he began. But you spared me this, like the heart you are, And filled my empty heart at a word. XLVI. XIIV. XLIV. XLIII. XLII. XLI.

XL.

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If two lives join, there is oft a scar, They are one and one, with a shadowy third; One near one is too far. A moment after, and hands unseen Were hanging the night around us fast But we knew that a bar was broken between Life and life: we were mixed at last In spite of the mortal screen. The forests had done it; there they stood; We caught for a moment the powers at play: They had mingled us so, for once and good, Their work was done---we might go or stay, They relapsed to their ancient mood. How the world is made for each of us! How all we perceive and know in it Tends to some moment's product thus, When a soul declares itself---to wit, By its fruit, the thing it does Be hate that fruit or love that fruit, It forwards the general deed of man, And each of the Many helps to recruit The life of the race by a general plan; Each living his own, to boot. I am named and known by that moment's feat; There took my station and degree; So grew my own small life complete, As nature obtained her best of me--One born to love you, sweet! And to watch you sink by the fire-side now Back again, as you mutely sit Musing by fire-light, that great brow And the spirit-small hand propping it, Yonder, my heart knows how!
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XLVII.

XLVIII.

XLIX.

L.

LI.

LII.

So, earth has gained by one man the more, And the gain of earth must be heaven's gain too; And the whole is well worth thinking o'er When autumn comes: which I mean to do One day, as I said before. Robert Browning

LIII.

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Caliban upon Setebos or, Natural Theology in the Island "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself." (David, Psalms 50.21) ['Will sprawl, now that the heat of day is best, Flat on his belly in the pit's much mire, With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his chin. And, while he kicks both feet in the cool slush, And feels about his spine small eft-things course, Run in and out each arm, and make him laugh: And while above his head a pompion-plant, Coating the cave-top as a brow its eye, Creeps down to touch and tickle hair and beard, And now a flower drops with a bee inside, And now a fruit to snap at, catch and crunch,-He looks out o'er yon sea which sunbeams cross And recross till they weave a spider-web (Meshes of fire, some great fish breaks at times) And talks to his own self, howe'er he please, Touching that other, whom his dam called God. Because to talk about Him, vexes--ha, Could He but know! and time to vex is now, When talk is safer than in winter-time. Moreover Prosper and Miranda sleep In confidence he drudges at their task, And it is good to cheat the pair, and gibe, Letting the rank tongue blossom into speech.] Setebos, Setebos, and Setebos! 'Thinketh, He dwelleth i' the cold o' the moon.

'Thinketh He made it, with the sun to match, But not the stars; the stars came otherwise; Only made clouds, winds, meteors, such as that: Also this isle, what lives and grows thereon, And snaky sea which rounds and ends the same.

'Thinketh, it came of being ill at ease: He hated that He cannot change His cold, Nor cure its ache. 'Hath spied an icy fish That longed to 'scape the rock-stream where she lived, And thaw herself within the lukewarm brine O' the lazy sea her stream thrusts far amid, A crystal spike 'twixt two warm walls of wave; Only, she ever sickened, found repulse At the other kind of water, not her life, (Green-dense and dim-delicious, bred o' the sun) Flounced back from bliss she was not born to breathe, And in her old bounds buried her despair, Hating and loving warmth alike: so He. 'Thinketh, He made thereat the sun, this isle, Trees and the fowls here, beast and creeping thing. Yon otter, sleek-wet, black, lithe as a leech;

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Yon auk, one fire-eye in a ball of foam, That floats and feeds; a certain badger brown He hath watched hunt with that slant white-wedge eye By moonlight; and the pie with the long tongue That pricks deep into oak warts for a worm, And says a plain word when she finds her prize, But will not eat the ants; the ants themselves That build a wall of seeds and settled stalks About their hole--He made all these and more, Made all we see, and us, in spite: how else? He could not, Himself, make a second self To be His mate; as well have made Himself: He would not make what He mislikes or slights, An eyesore to Him, or not worth His pains: But did, in envy, listlessness or sport, Make what Himself would fain, in a manner, be-Weaker in most points, stronger in a few, Worthy, and yet mere playthings all the while, Things He admires and mocks too,--that is it. Because, so brave, so better though they be, It nothing skills if He begin to plague. Look, now, I melt a gourd-fruit into mash, Add honeycomb and pods, I have perceived, Which bite like finches when they bill and kiss,-Then, when froth rises bladdery, drink up all, Quick, quick, till maggots scamper through my brain; Last, throw me on my back i' the seeded thyme, And wanton, wishing I were born a bird. Put case, unable to be what I wish, I yet could make a live bird out of clay: Would not I take clay, pinch my Caliban Able to fly?--for, there, see, he hath wings, And great comb like the hoopoe's to admire, And there, a sting to do his foes offence, There, and I will that he begin to live, Fly to yon rock-top, nip me off the horns Of grigs high up that make the merry din, Saucy through their veined wings, and mind me not. In which feat, if his leg snapped, brittle clay, And he lay stupid-like,--why, I should laugh; And if he, spying me, should fall to weep, Beseech me to be good, repair his wrong, Bid his poor leg smart less or grow again,-Well, as the chance were, this might take or else Not take my fancy: I might hear his cry, And give the mankin three sound legs for one, Or pluck the other off, leave him like an egg And lessoned he was mine and merely clay. Were this no pleasure, lying in the thyme, Drinking the mash, with brain become alive, Making and marring clay at will? So He.
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'Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him, Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord. 'Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs That march now from the mountain to the sea; 'Let twenty pass, and stone the twenty-first, Loving not, hating not, just choosing so. 'Say, the first straggler that boasts purple spots Shall join the file, one pincer twisted off; 'Say, this bruised fellow shall receive a worm, And two worms he whose nippers end in red; As it likes me each time, I do: so He. Well then, 'supposeth He is good i' the main, Placable if His mind and ways were guessed, But rougher than His handiwork, be sure! Oh, He hath made things worthier than Himself, And envieth that, so helped, such things do more Than He who made them! What consoles but this? That they, unless through Him, do nought at all, And must submit: what other use in things? 'Hath cut a pipe of pithless elder-joint That, blown through, gives exact the scream o' the jay When from her wing you twitch the feathers blue: Sound this, and little birds that hate the jay Flock within stone's throw, glad their foe is hurt: Put case such pipe could prattle and boast forsooth "I catch the birds, I am the crafty thing, I make the cry my maker cannot make With his great round mouth; he must blow through mine!' Would not I smash it with my foot? So He. But wherefore rough, why cold and ill at ease? Aha, that is a question! Ask, for that, What knows,--the something over Setebos That made Him, or He, may be, found and fought, Worsted, drove off and did to nothing, perchance. There may be something quiet o'er His head, Out of His reach, that feels nor joy nor grief, Since both derive from weakness in some way. I joy because the quails come; would not joy Could I bring quails here when I have a mind: This Quiet, all it hath a mind to, doth. 'Esteemeth stars the outposts of its couch, But never spends much thought nor care that way. It may look up, work up,--the worse for those It works on! 'Careth but for Setebos The many-handed as a cuttle-fish, Who, making Himself feared through what He does, Looks up, first, and perceives he cannot soar To what is quiet and hath happy life;

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Next looks down here, and out of very spite Makes this a bauble-world to ape yon real, These good things to match those as hips do grapes. 'Tis solace making baubles, ay, and sport. Himself peeped late, eyed Prosper at his books Careless and lofty, lord now of the isle: Vexed, 'stitched a book of broad leaves, arrow-shaped, Wrote thereon, he knows what, prodigious words; Has peeled a wand and called it by a name; Weareth at whiles for an enchanter's robe The eyed skin of a supple oncelot; And hath an ounce sleeker than youngling mole, A four-legged serpent he makes cower and couch, Now snarl, now hold its breath and mind his eye, And saith she is Miranda and my wife: 'Keeps for his Ariel a tall pouch-bill crane He bids go wade for fish and straight disgorge; Also a sea-beast, lumpish, which he snared, Blinded the eyes of, and brought somewhat tame, And split its toe-webs, and now pens the drudge In a hole o' the rock and calls him Caliban; A bitter heart that bides its time and bites. 'Plays thus at being Prosper in a way, Taketh his mirth with make-believes: so He. His dam held that the Quiet made all things Which Setebos vexed only: 'holds not so. Who made them weak, meant weakness He might vex. Had He meant other, while His hand was in, Why not make horny eyes no thorn could prick, Or plate my scalp with bone against the snow, Or overscale my flesh 'neath joint and joint Like an orc's armour? Ay,--so spoil His sport! He is the One now: only He doth all. 'Saith, He may like, perchance, what profits Him. Ay, himself loves what does him good; but why? 'Gets good no otherwise. This blinded beast Loves whoso places flesh-meat on his nose, But, had he eyes, would want no help, but hate Or love, just as it liked him: He hath eyes. Also it pleaseth Setebos to work, Use all His hands, and exercise much craft, By no means for the love of what is worked. 'Tasteth, himself, no finer good i' the world When all goes right, in this safe summer-time, And he wants little, hungers, aches not much, Than trying what to do with wit and strength. 'Falls to make something: 'piled yon pile of turfs, And squared and stuck there squares of soft white chalk, And, with a fish-tooth, scratched a moon on each, And set up endwise certain spikes of tree,

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And crowned the whole with a sloth's skull a-top, Found dead i' the woods, too hard for one to kill. No use at all i' the work, for work's sole sake; 'Shall some day knock it down again: so He. 'Saith He is terrible: watch His feats in proof! One hurricane will spoil six good months' hope. He hath a spite against me, that I know, Just as He favours Prosper, who knows why? So it is, all the same, as well I find. 'Wove wattles half the winter, fenced them firm With stone and stake to stop she-tortoises Crawling to lay their eggs here: well, one wave, Feeling the foot of Him upon its neck, Gaped as a snake does, lolled out its large tongue, And licked the whole labour flat: so much for spite. 'Saw a ball flame down late (yonder it lies) Where, half an hour before, I slept i' the shade: Often they scatter sparkles: there is force! 'Dug up a newt He may have envied once And turned to stone, shut up Inside a stone. Please Him and hinder this?--What Prosper does? Aha, if He would tell me how! Not He! There is the sport: discover how or die! All need not die, for of the things o' the isle Some flee afar, some dive, some run up trees; Those at His mercy,--why, they please Him most When . . . when . . . well, never try the same way twice! Repeat what act has pleased, He may grow wroth. You must not know His ways, and play Him off, Sure of the issue. 'Doth the like himself: 'Spareth a squirrel that it nothing fears But steals the nut from underneath my thumb, And when I threat, bites stoutly in defence: 'Spareth an urchin that contrariwise, Curls up into a ball, pretending death For fright at my approach: the two ways please. But what would move my choler more than this, That either creature counted on its life To-morrow and next day and all days to come, Saying, forsooth, in the inmost of its heart, "Because he did so yesterday with me, And otherwise with such another brute, So must he do henceforth and always."--Ay? Would teach the reasoning couple what "must" means! 'Doth as he likes, or wherefore Lord? So He. 'Conceiveth all things will continue thus, And we shall have to live in fear of Him So long as He lives, keeps His strength: no change,

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If He have done His best, make no new world To please Him more, so leave off watching this,-If He surprise not even the Quiet's self Some strange day,--or, suppose, grow into it As grubs grow butterflies: else, here are we, And there is He, and nowhere help at all. 'Believeth with the life, the pain shall stop. His dam held different, that after death He both plagued enemies and feasted friends: Idly! He doth His worst in this our life, Giving just respite lest we die through pain, Saving last pain for worst,--with which, an end. Meanwhile, the best way to escape His ire Is, not to seem too happy. 'Sees, himself, Yonder two flies, with purple films and pink, Bask on the pompion-bell above: kills both. 'Sees two black painful beetles roll their ball On head and tail as if to save their lives: Moves them the stick away they strive to clear. Even so, 'would have Him misconceive, suppose This Caliban strives hard and ails no less, And always, above all else, envies Him; Wherefore he mainly dances on dark nights, Moans in the sun, gets under holes to laugh, And never speaks his mind save housed as now: Outside, 'groans, curses. If He caught me here, O'erheard this speech, and asked "What chucklest at?" 'Would, to appease Him, cut a finger off, Or of my three kid yearlings burn the best, Or let the toothsome apples rot on tree, Or push my tame beast for the orc to taste: While myself lit a fire, and made a song And sung it, "What I hate, be consecrate To celebrate Thee and Thy state, no mate For Thee; what see for envy in poor me?" Hoping the while, since evils sometimes mend, Warts rub away and sores are cured with slime, That some strange day, will either the Quiet catch And conquer Setebos, or likelier He Decrepit may doze, doze, as good as die.

Robert Browning

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Cavalier Tunes . MARCHING ALONG. Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King, Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing: And, pressing a troop unable to stoop And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop, Marched them along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song. God for King Charles! Pym and such carles To the Devil that prompts 'em their treasonous parles! Cavaliers, up! Lips from the cup, Hands from the pasty, nor bite take nor sup Till you're--CHORUS.---Marching along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song. Hampden to hell, and his obsequies' knell Serve Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Harry as well! England, good cheer! Rupert is near! Kentish and loyalists, keep we not here III. II. I.

CHORUS.---Marching along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song? Then, God for King Charles! Pym and his snarls To the Devil that pricks on such pestilent carles! Hold by the right, you double your might; So, onward to Nottingham, fresh for the fight, IV.

CHORUS.---March we along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song! II. GIVE A ROUSE. King King Give King Charles, and who'll do him right now? Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, Charles! I.

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Who Who Who Who

CHORUS.---King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, King Charles! To whom used my boy George quaff else, By the old fool's side that begot him? For whom did he cheer and laugh else, While Noll's damned troopers shot him? III.

gave me the goods that went since? raised me the house that sank once? helped me to gold I spent since? found me in wine you drank once?

II.

CHORUS.---King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, King Charles! III. BOOT AND SADDLE. Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! Rescue my castle before the hot day Brightens to blue from its silvery grey, II. I.

CHORUS.---Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say; Many's the friend there, will listen and pray ``God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay--III.

CHORUS.---``Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!'' Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay, Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads' array: Who laughs, ``Good fellows ere this, by my fay,
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CHORUS.---``Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!''

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Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay, Laughs when you talk of surrendering, ``Nay! ``I've better counsellors; what counsel they? Robert Browning

IV.

CHORUS.---``Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!''

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Cavalier Tunes: Boot and Saddle Boot, saddle, to horse and away! Rescue my Castle, before the hot day Brightens to blue from its silvery gray, (Chorus) Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say; Many's the friend there, will listen and pray "God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay-(Chorus) Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay, Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads' array: Who laughs, "Good fellows ere this, by my fay, (Chorus) Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!" Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay, Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay! I've better counsellors; what counsel they? (Chorus) Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Robert Browning

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Cavalier Tunes: Give a Rouse King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in Hell's despite now, King Charles!

Who gave me the goods that went since? Who raised me the house that sank once? Who helped me to gold I spent since? Who found me in wine you drank once? (Chorus) King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in Hell's despite now, King Charles! To whom used my boy George quaff else, By the old fool's side that begot him? For whom did he cheer and laugh else, While Noll's damned troopers shot him? (Chorus) King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in Hell's despite now, King Charles! Robert Browning

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Cavalier Tunes: Marching Along Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King, Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing: And, pressing a troop unable to stoop And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop, Marched them along, fifty score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song. God for King Charles! Pym and such carles To the Devil that prompts 'em their treasonous parles! Cavaliers, up! Lips from the cup, Hands from the pasty, nor bite take nor sup Till you're-(Chorus) Marching along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song. Hampden to hell, and his obsequies' knell. Serve Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Harry as well! England, good cheer! Rupert is near! Kentish and loyalists, keep we not here (Chorus) Marching along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song? Then, God for King Charles! Pym and his snarls To the Devil that pricks on such pestilent carles! Hold by the right, you double your might; So, onward to Nottingham, fresh for the fight, (Chorus) March we along, fifty-score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song!

Robert Browning

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Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came I. My first thought was, he lied in every word, That hoary cripple, with malicious eye Askance to watch the working of his lie On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby. What else should he be set for, with his staff? What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare All travellers who might find him posted there, And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare, If at his counsel I should turn aside Into that ominous tract which, all agree, Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly I did turn as he pointed: neither pride Nor hope rekindling at the end descried, So much as gladness that some end might be. For, what with my whole world-wide wandering, What with my search drawn out thro' years, my hope Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope With that obstreperous joy success would bring, I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring My heart made, finding failure in its scope. As when a sick man very near to death Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end The tears and takes the farewell of each friend, And hears one bid the other go, draw breath Freelier outside, (``since all is o'er,'' he saith, ``And the blow falIen no grieving can amend;'') While some discuss if near the other graves Be room enough for this, and when a day Suits best for carrying the corpse away, With care about the banners, scarves and staves: And still the man hears all, and only craves VI. V. IV. III. II.

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He may not shame such tender love and stay. Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest, Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ So many times among ``The Band''---to wit, The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed Their steps---that just to fail as they, seemed best, And all the doubt was now---should I be fit? So, quiet as despair, I turned from him, That hateful cripple, out of his highway Into the path he pointed. All the day Had been a dreary one at best, and dim Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim Red leer to see the plain catch its estray. For mark! no sooner was I fairly found Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two, Than, pausing to throw backward a last view O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; grey plain all round: Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound. I might go on; nought else remained to do. So, on I went. I think I never saw Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve: For flowers---as well expect a cedar grove! But cockle, spurge, according to their law Might propagate their kind, with none to awe, You'd think; a burr had been a treasure-trove. No! penury, inertness and grimace, In some strange sort, were the land's portion. ``See ``Or shut your eyes,'' said nature peevishly, ``It nothing skills: I cannot help my case: ``'Tis the Last judgment's fire must cure this place, ``Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.'' If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents XII. XI. X. IX. VIII. VII.

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In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk All hope of greenness?'tis a brute must walk Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents. As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood. One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare, Stood stupefied, however he came there: Thrust out past service from the devil's stud! Alive? he might be dead for aught I know, With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain, And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane; Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe; I never saw a brute I hated so; He must be wicked to deserve such pain. I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart. As a man calls for wine before he fights, I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights, Ere fitly I could hope to play my part. Think first, fight afterwards---the soldier's art: One taste of the old time sets all to rights. Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face Beneath its garniture of curly gold, Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold An arm in mine to fix me to the place, That way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace! Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold. Giles then, the soul of honour---there he stands Frank as ten years ago when knighted first. What honest man should dare (he said) he durst. Good---but the scene shifts---faugh! what hangman hands Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst! Better this present than a past like that; XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV. XIV. XIII.

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Back therefore to my darkening path again! No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain. Will the night send a howlet or a bat? I asked: when something on the dismal flat Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train. A sudden little river crossed my path As unexpected as a serpent comes. No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms; This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath For the fiend's glowing hoof---to see the wrath Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes. So petty yet so spiteful! All along, Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it; Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit Of route despair, a suicidal throng: The river which had done them all the wrong, Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit. Which, while I forded,---good saints, how I feared To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek, Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard! ---It may have been a water-rat I speared, But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek. Glad was I when I reached the other bank. Now for a better country. Vain presage! Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage, Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank, Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage--The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque. What penned them there, with all the plain to choose? No foot-print leading to that horrid mews, None out of it. Mad brewage set to work Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.
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XIX.

XX.

XXI.

XXII.

XXIII.

XXIV.

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And more than that---a furlong on---why, there! What bad use was that engine for, that wheel, Or brake, not wheel---that harrow fit to reel Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware, Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel. Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood, Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth, Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood Changes and off he goes!) within a rood--Bog, clay and rubble, sand and stark black dearth. Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim, Now patches where some leanness of the soil's Broke into moss or substances like boils; Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils. And just as far as ever from the end! Nought in the distance but the evening, nought To point my footstep further! At the thought, great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend, Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned That brushed my cap---perchance the guide I sought. For, looking up, aware I somehow grew, 'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place All round to mountains---with such name to grace Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view. How thus they had surprised me,---solve it, you! How to get from them was no clearer case. Yet half I seemed to recognize some trick Of mischief happened to me, God knows when--In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then, Progress this way. When, in the very nick Of giving up, one time more, came a click As when a trap shuts---you're inside the den! XXIX. XXVIII. XXVII. XXVI. XXV.

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Burningly it came on me all at once, This was the place! those two hills on the right, Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight; While to the left, a tall scalped mountain ... Dunce, Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce, After a life spent training for the sight! What in the midst lay but the Tower itself? The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart, Built of brown stone, without a counter-part In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf He strikes on, only when the timbers start. Not see? because of night perhaps?---why, day Came back again for that! before it left, The dying sunset kindled through a cleft: The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay, Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,--``Now stab and end the creature---to the heft!'' Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears Of all the lost adventurers my peers,--How such a one was strong, and such was bold, And such was fortunate, yet, each of old Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years. There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met To view the last of me, a living frame For one more picture! in a sheet of flame I saw them and I knew them all. And yet Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, And blew. ``_Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came._'' Robert Browning XXXIV. XXXIII. XXXII. XXXI.

XXX.

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Cleon "As certain also of your own poets have said"-(Acts 17.28) Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles, Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")-To Protus in his Tyranny: much health! They give thy letter to me, even now: I read and seem as if I heard thee speak. The master of thy galley still unlades Gift after gift; they block my court at last And pile themselves along its portico Royal with sunset, like a thought of thee: And one white she-slave from the group dispersed Of black and white slaves (like the chequer-work Pavement, at once my nation's work and gift, Now covered with this settle-down of doves), One lyric woman, in her crocus vest Woven of sea-wools, with her two white hands Commends to me the strainer and the cup Thy lip hath bettered ere it blesses mine. Well-counselled, king, in thy munificence! For so shall men remark, in such an act Of love for him whose song gives life its joy,-Thy recognition of the use of life; Nor call thy spirit barely adequate To help on life in straight ways, broad enough For vulgar souls, by ruling and the rest. Thou, in the daily building of thy tower,-Whether in fierce and sudden spasms of toil, Or through dim lulls of unapparent growth, Or when the general work 'mid good acclaim Climbed with the eye to cheer the architect,-Didst ne'er engage in work for mere work's sake-Hadst ever in thy heart the luring hope Of some eventual rest a-top of it, Whence, all the tumult of the building hushed, Thou first of men might'st look out to the East: The vulgar saw thy tower, thou sawest the sun. For this, I promise on thy festival To pour libation, looking o'er the sea, Making this slave narrate thy fortunes, speak Thy great words, and describe thy royal face-Wishing thee wholly where Zeus lives the most, Within the eventual element of calm. Thy letter's first requirement meets me here. It is as thou hast heard: in one short life I, Cleon, have effected all those things Thou wonderingly dost enumerate. That epos on thy hundred plates of gold

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Is mine,--and also mine the little chant, So sure to rise from every fishing-bark When, lights at prow, the seamen haul their net. The image of the sun-god on the phare, Men turn from the sun's self to see, is mine; The Pœo'er-storied its whole length, As thou didst hear, with painting, is mine too. I know the true proportions of a man And woman also, not observed before; And I have written three books on the soul, Proving absurd all written hitherto, And putting us to ignorance again. For music,--why, I have combined the moods, Inventing one. In brief, all arts are mine; Thus much the people know and recognize, Throughout our seventeen islands. Marvel not. We of these latter days, with greater mind Than our forerunners, since more composite, Look not so great, beside their simple way, To a judge who only sees one way at once, One mind-point and no other at a time,-Compares the small part of a man of us With some whole man of the heroic age, Great in his way--not ours, nor meant for ours. And ours is greater, had we skill to know: For, what we call this life of men on earth, This sequence of the soul's achievements here Being, as I find much reason to conceive, Intended to be viewed eventually As a great whole, not analyzed to parts, But each part having reference to all,-How shall a certain part, pronounced complete, Endure effacement by another part? Was the thing done?--then, what's to do again? See, in the chequered pavement opposite, Suppose the artist made a perfect rhomb, And next a lozenge, then a trapezoid-He did not overlay them, superimpose The new upon the old and blot it out, But laid them on a level in his work, Making at last a picture; there it lies. So, first the perfect separate forms were made, The portions of mankind; and after, so, Occurred the combination of the same. For where had been a progress, otherwise? Mankind, made up of all the single men,-In such a synthesis the labour ends. Now mark me! those divine men of old time Have reached, thou sayest well, each at one point The outside verge that rounds our faculty; And where they reached, who can do more than reach? It takes but little water just to touch

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At some one point the inside of a sphere, And, as we turn the sphere, touch all the rest In due succession: but the finer air Which not so palpably nor obviously, Though no less universally, can touch The whole circumference of that emptied sphere, Fills it more fully than the water did; Holds thrice the weight of water in itself Resolved into a subtler element. And yet the vulgar call the sphere first full Up to the visible height--and after, void; Not knowing air's more hidden properties. And thus our soul, misknown, cries out to Zeus To vindicate his purpose in our life: Why stay we on the earth unless to grow? Long since, I imaged, wrote the fiction out, That he or other god descended here And, once for all, showed simultaneously What, in its nature, never can be shown, Piecemeal or in succession;--showed, I say, The worth both absolute and relative Of all his children from the birth of time, His instruments for all appointed work. I now go on to image,--might we hear The judgment which should give the due to each, Show where the labour lay and where the ease, And prove Zeus' self, the latent everywhere! This is a dream:--but no dream, let us hope, That years and days, the summers and the springs, Follow each other with unwaning powers. The grapes which dye thy wine are richer far, Through culture, than the wild wealth of the rock; The suave plum than the savage-tasted drupe; The pastured honey-bee drops choicer sweet; The flowers turn double, and the leaves turn flowers; That young and tender crescent-moon, thy slave, Sleeping above her robe as buoyed by clouds, Refines upon the women of my youth. What, and the soul alone deteriorates? I have not chanted verse like Homer, no-Nor swept string like Terpander, no--nor carved And painted men like Phidias and his friend: I am not great as they are, point by point. But I have entered into sympathy With these four, running these into one soul, Who, separate, ignored each other's art. Say, is it nothing that I know them all? The wild flower was the larger; I have dashed Rose-blood upon its petals, pricked its cup's Honey with wine, and driven its seed to fruit, And show a better flower if not so large: I stand myself. Refer this to the gods

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Whose gift alone it is! which, shall I dare (All pride apart) upon the absurd pretext That such a gift by chance lay in my hand, Discourse of lightly or depreciate? It might have fallen to another's hand: what then? I pass too surely: let at least truth stay! And next, of what thou followest on to ask. This being with me as I declare, O king, My works, in all these varicoloured kinds, So done by me, accepted so by men-Thou askest, if (my soul thus in men's hearts) I must not be accounted to attain The very crown and proper end of life? Inquiring thence how, now life closeth up, I face death with success in my right hand: Whether I fear death less than dost thyself The fortunate of men? "For" (writest thou) "Thou leavest much behind, while I leave nought. Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing, The pictures men shall study; while my life, Complete and whole now in its power and joy, Dies altogether with my brain and arm, Is lost indeed; since, what survives myself? The brazen statue to o'erlook my grave, Set on the promontory which I named. And that--some supple courtier of my heir Shall use its robed and sceptred arm, perhaps, To fix the rope to, which best drags it down. I go then: triumph thou, who dost not go!"

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Nay, thou art worthy of hearing my whole mind. Is this apparent, when thou turn'st to muse Upon the scheme of earth and man in chief, That admiration grows as knowledge grows? That imperfection means perfection hid, Reserved in part, to grace the after-time? If, in the morning of philosophy, Ere aught had been recorded, nay perceived, Thou, with the light now in thee, couldst have looked On all earth's tenantry, from worm to bird, Ere man, her last, appeared upon the stage-Thou wouldst have seen them perfect, and deduced The perfectness of others yet unseen. Conceding which,--had Zeus then questioned thee, "Shall I go on a step, improve on this, Do more for visible creatures than is done?" Thou wouldst have answered, "Ay, by making each Grow conscious in himself--by that alone. All's perfect else: the shell sucks fast the rock, The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims And slides, forth range the beasts, the birds take flight,

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Till life's mechanics can no further go-And all this joy in natural life is put Like fire from off thy finger into each, So exquisitely perfect is the same. But 'tis pure fire, and they mere matter are; It has them, not they it: and so I choose For man, thy last premeditated work (If I might add a glory to the scheme), That a third thing should stand apart from both, A quality arise within his soul, Which, intro-active, made to supervise And feel the force it has, may view itself, And so be happy." Man might live at first The animal life: but is there nothing more? In due time, let him critically learn How he lives; and, the more he gets to know Of his own life's adaptabilities, The more joy-giving will his life become. Thus man, who hath this quality, is best.

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But thou, king, hadst more reasonably said: Let progress end at once,--man make no step Beyond the natural man, the better beast, Using his senses, not the sense of sense." In man there's failure, only since he left The lower and inconscious forms of life. We called it an advance, the rendering plain Man's spirit might grow conscious of man's life, And, by new lore so added to the old, Take each step higher over the brute's head. This grew the only life, the pleasure-house, Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul, Which whole surrounding flats of natural life Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to; A tower that crowns a country. But alas, The soul now climbs it just to perish there! For thence we have discovered ('tis no dream-We know this, which we had not else perceived) That there's a world of capability For joy, spread round about us, meant for us, Inviting us; and still the soul craves all, And still the flesh replies, "Take no jot more Than ere thou clombst the tower to look abroad! Nay, so much less as that fatigue has brought Deduction to it." We struggle, fain to enlarge Our bounded physical recipiency, Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life, Repair the waste of age and sickness: no, It skills not! life's inadequate to joy, As the soul sees joy, tempting life to take. They praise a fountain in my garden here Wherein a Naiad sends the water-bow

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Thin from her tube; she smiles to see it rise. What if I told her, it is just a thread From that great river which the hills shut up, And mock her with my leave to take the same? The artificer has given her one small tube Past power to widen or exchange--what boots To know she might spout oceans if she could? She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread: And so a man can use but a man's joy While he sees God's. Is it for Zeus to boast, "See, man, how happy I live, and despair-That I may be still happier--for thy use!" If this were so, we could not thank our lord, As hearts beat on to doing; 'tis not so-Malice it is not. Is it carelessness? Still, no. If care--where is the sign? I ask, And get no answer, and agree in sum, O king, with thy profound discouragement, Who seest the wider but to sigh the more. Most progress is most failure: thou sayest well.

The last point now:--thou dost except a case-Holding joy not impossible to one With artist-gifts--to such a man as I Who leave behind me living works indeed; For, such a poem, such a painting lives. What? dost thou verily trip upon a word, Confound the accurate view of what joy is (Caught somewhat clearer by my eyes than thine) With feeling joy? confound the knowing how And showing how to live (my faculty) With actually living?--Otherwise Where is the artist's vantage o'er the king? Because in my great epos I display How divers men young, strong, fair, wise, can act-Is this as though I acted? if I paint, Carve the young Ph{oe}bus, am I therefore young? Methinks I'm older that I bowed myself The many years of pain that taught me art! Indeed, to know is something, and to prove How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more: But, knowing nought, to enjoy is something too. Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there, Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I. I can write love-odes: thy fair slave's an ode. I get to sing of love, when grown too grey For being beloved: she turns to that young man, The muscles all a-ripple on his back. I know the joy of kingship: well, thou art king! "But," sayest thou--(and I marvel, I repeat, To find thee trip on such a mere word) "what

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Thou writest, paintest, stays; that does not die: Sappho survives, because we sing her songs, And Aeschylus, because we read his plays!" Why, if they live still, let them come and take Thy slave in my despite, drink from thy cup, Speak in my place. Thou diest while I survive? Say rather that my fate is deadlier still, In this, that every day my sense of joy Grows more acute, my soul (intensified By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen; While every day my hairs fall more and more, My hand shakes, and the heavy years increase-The horror quickening still from year to year, The consummation coming past escape, When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy-When all my works wherein I prove my worth, Being present still to mock me in men's mouths, Alive still, in the praise of such as thou, I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man, The man who loved his life so over-much, Sleep in my urn. It is so horrible, I dare at times imagine to my need Some future state revealed to us by Zeus, Unlimited in capability For joy, as this is in desire for joy, --To seek which, the joy-hunger forces us: That, stung by straitness of our life, made strait On purpose to make prized the life at large-Freed by the throbbing impulse we call death, We burst there as the worm into the fly, Who, while a worm still, wants his wings. But no! Zeus has not yet revealed it; and alas, He must have done so, were it possible!

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Live long and happy, and in that thought die: Glad for what was! Farewell. And for the rest, I cannot tell thy messenger aright Where to deliver what he bears of thine To one called Paulus; we have heard his fame Indeed, if Christus be not one with him-I know not, nor am troubled much to know. Thou canst not think a mere barbarian Jew, As Paulus proves to be, one circumcised, Hath access to a secret shut from us? Thou wrongest our philosophy, O king, In stooping to inquire of such an one, As if his answer could impose at all! He writeth, doth he? well, and he may write. Oh, the Jew findeth scholars! certain slaves Who touched on this same isle, preached him and Christ; And (as I gathered from a bystander) Their doctrine could be held by no sane man.

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Robert Browning

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Confessional, The [SPAIN.] It is a lie---their Priests, their Pope, Their Saints, their ... all they fear or hope Are lies, and lies---there! through my door And ceiling, there! and walls and floor, There, lies, they lie---shall still be hurled Till spite of them I reach the world! You think Priests just and holy men! Before they put me in this den I was a human creature too, With flesh and blood like one of you, A girl that laughed in beauty's pride Like lilies in your world outside. I had a lover---shame avaunt! This poor wrenched body, grim and gaunt, Was kissed all over till it burned, By lips the truest, love e'er turned His heart's own tint: one night they kissed My soul out in a burning mist. So, next day when the accustomed train Of things grew round my sense again, ``That is a sin,'' I said: and slow With downcast eyes to church I go, And pass to the confession-chair, And tell the old mild father there. But when I falter Beltran's name, ``Ha?'' quoth the father; ``much I blame ``The sin; yet wherefore idly grieve? ``Despair not---strenuously retrieve! ``Nay, I will turn this love of thine ``To lawful love, almost divine; ``For he is young, and led astray, ``This Beltran, and he schemes, men say, ``To change the laws of church and state VI. V. IV. III. II. I.

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``So, thine shall be an angel's fate, ``Who, ere the thunder breaks, should roll ``Its cloud away and save his soul. ``For, when he lies upon thy breast, ``Thou mayst demand and be possessed ``Of all his plans, and next day steal ``To me, and all those plans reveal, ``That I and every priest, to purge ``His soul, may fast and use the scourge.'' That father's beard was long and white, With love and truth his brow seemed bright; I went back, all on fire with joy, And, that same evening, bade the boy Tell me, as lovers should, heart-free, Something to prove his love of me. He told me what he would not tell For hope of heaven or fear of hell; And I lay listening in such pride! And, soon as he had left my side, Tripped to the church by morning-light To save his soul in his despite. I told the father all his schemes, Who were his comrades, what their dreams; ``And now make haste,'' I said, ``to pray ``The one spot from his soul away; ``To-night he comes, but not the same ``Will look!'' At night he never came. Nor next night: on the after-morn, I went forth with a strength new-born. The church was empty; something drew My steps into the street; I knew It led me to the market-place: Where, lo, on high, the father's face! That horrible black scaffold dressed, XII. XI. X. IX. VIII. VII.

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That stapled block ... God sink the rest! That head strapped back, that blinding vest, Those knotted hands and naked breast, Till near one busy hangman pressed, And, on the neck these arms caressed ... No part in aught they hope or fear! No heaven with them, no hell!---and here, No earth, not so much space as pens My body in their worst of dens But shall bear God and man my cry, Lies---lies, again---and still, they lie! Robert Browning XIII.

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Confessions What is he buzzing in my ears? "Now that I come to die, Do I view the world as a vale of tears?" Ah, reverend sir, not I!

What I viewed there once, what I view again Where the physic bottles stand On the table's edge, -is a suburb lane, With a wall to my bedside hand. That lane sloped, much as the bottles do, From a house you could descry O'er the garden-wall: is the curtain blue Or green to a healthy eye?

To mine, it serves for the old June weather Blue above lane and wall; And that farthest bottle labelled "Ether" Is the house o'ertopping all. At a terrace, somewhere near the stopper, There watched for me, one June, A girl; I know, sir, it's improper, My poor mind's out of tune. Only, there was a way... you crept Close by the side, to dodge Eyes in the house, two eyes except: They styled their house "The Lodge".

What right had a lounger up their lane? But, by creeping very close, With the good wall's help, -their eyes might strain And stretch themselves to Oes, Yet never catch her and me together, As she left the attic, there, By the rim of the bottle labelled "Ether", And stole from stair to stair,

And stood by the rose-wreathed gate. Alas, We loved, sir -used to meet: How sad and bad and mad it was But then, how it was sweet! Robert Browning

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Count Gismond--Aix in Provence Christ God who savest man, save most Of men Count Gismond who saved me! Count Gauthier, when he chose his post, Chose time and place and company To suit it; when he struck at length My honour, 't was with all his strength. And doubtlessly, ere he could draw All points to one, he must have schemed! That miserable morning saw Few half so happy as I seemed, While being dressed in queen's array To give our tourney prize away.

I thought they loved me, did me grace To please themselves; 't was all their deed; God makes, or fair or foul, our face; If showing mine so caused to bleed My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped A word, and straight the play had stopped. They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen By virtue of her brow and breast; Not needing to be crowned, I mean, As I do. E'en when I was dressed, Had either of them spoke, instead Of glancing sideways with still head!

But no: they let me laugh, and sing My birthday song quite through, adjust The last rose in my garland, fling A last look on the mirror, trust My arms to each an arm of theirs, And so descend the castle-stairs-

And come out on the morning troop Of merry friends who kissed my cheek, And called me queen, and made me stoop Under the canopy-(a streak That pierced it, of the outside sun, Powdered with gold its gloom's soft dun)And they could let me take my state And foolish throne amid applause Of all come there to celebrate My queen's-day-Oh I think the cause Of much was, they forgot no crowd Makes up for parents in their shroud!

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However that be, all eyes were bent Upon me, when my cousins cast Theirs down; 't was time I should present The victor's crown, but ... there, 't will last

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No long time ... the old mist again Blinds me as then it did. How vain!

See! Gismond's at the gate, in talk With his two boys: I can proceed. Well, at that moment, who should stalk Forth boldly-to my face, indeedBut Gauthier? and he thundered "Stay!" And all stayed. "Bring no crowns, I say! "Bring torches! Wind the penance-sheet "About her! Let her shun the chaste, "Or lay herself before their feet! "Shall she, whose body I embraced "A night long, queen it in the day? "For honour's sake no crowns, I say!"

I? What I answered? As I live, I never fancied such a thing As answer possible to give. What says the body when they spring Some monstrous torture-engine's whole Strength on it? No more says the soul. Till out strode Gismond; then I knew That I was saved. I never met His face before, but, at first view, I felt quite sure that God had set Himself to Satan; would who spend A minute's mistrust on the end?

He strode to Gauthier, in his throat Gave him the lie, then struck his mouth With one back-handed blow that wrote In blood men's verdict there. North, South, East, West, I looked. The lie was dead, And damned, and truth stood up instead. This glads me most, that I enjoyed The heart o' the joy, with my content In watching Gismond unalloyed By any doubt of the event: God took that on him-I was bid Watch Gismond for my part: I did.

Did I not watch him while he let His armourer just brace his greaves, Rivet his hauberk, on the fret The while! His foot ... my memory leaves No least stamp out nor how anon He pulled his ringing gauntlets on.
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And e'en before the trumpet's sound Was finished, prone lay the false knight, Prone as his lie, upon the ground: Gismond flew at him, used no sleight O' the sword, but open-breasted drove, Cleaving till out the truth he clove. Which done, he dragged him to my feet And said, "Here die, but end thy breath "In full confession, lest thou fleet "From my first, to God's second death! "Say, hast thou lied? "And, "I have lied "To God and her,"he said, and died.

Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked -What safe my heart holds, though no word Could I repeat now, if I tasked My powers for ever, to a third Dear even as you are. Pass the rest Until I sank upon his breast. Over my head his arm he flung Against the world; and scarce I felt His sword (that dripped by me and swung) A little shifted in its belt: For he began to say the while How South our home lay many a mile. So, 'mid the shouting multitude We two walked forth to never more Return. My cousins have pursued Their life, untroubled as before I vexed them. Gauthier's dwelling-place God lighten! May his soul find grace! Our elder boy has got the clear Great brow, tho' when his brother's black Full eye shows scorn, it ... Gismond here? And have you brought my tercel back? I was just telling Adela How many birds it struck since May.

Robert Browning

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Cristina I. She should never have looked at me If she meant I should not love her! There are plenty ... men, you call such, I suppose ... she may discover All her soul to, if she pleases, And yet leave much as she found them: But I'm not so, and she knew it When she fixed me, glancing round them, What? To fix me thus meant nothing? But I can't tell (there's my weakness) What her look said!---no vile cant, sure, About ``need to strew the bleakness ``Of some lone shore with its pearl-seed. ``That the sea feels''---no strange yearning ``That such souls have, most to lavish ``Where there's chance of least returning.'' Oh, we're sunk enough here, God knows! But not quite so sunk that moments, Sure tho' seldom, are denied us, When the spirit's true endowments Stand out plainly from its false ones, And apprise it if pursuing Or the right way or the wrong way, To its triumph or undoing. There are flashes struck from midnights, There are fire-flames noondays kindle, Whereby piled-up honours perish, Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle, While just this or that poor impulse, Which for once had play unstifled, Seems the sole work of a life-time That away the rest have trifled. Doubt you if, in some such moment, As she fixed me, she felt clearly, Ages past the soul existed, Here an age 'tis resting merely, And hence fleets again for ages, While the true end, sole and single, V. IV. III. II.

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It stops here for is, this love-way, With some other soul to mingle? Else it loses what it lived for, And eternally must lose it; Better ends may be in prospect, Deeper blisses (if you choose it), But this life's end and this love-bliss Have been lost here. Doubt you whether This she felt as, looking at me, Mine and her souls rushed together? Oh, observe! Of course, next moment, The world's honours, in derision, Trampled out the light for ever: Never fear but there's provision Of the devil's to quench knowledge Lest we walk the earth in rapture! ---Making those who catch God's secret Just so much more prize their capture! Such am I: the secret's mine now! She has lost me, I have gained her; Her soul's mine: and thus, grown perfect, I shall pass my life's remainder. Life will just hold out the proving Both our powers, alone and blended: And then, come next life quickly! This world's use will have been ended. Robert Browning VIII. VII. VI.

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De Gustibus--I. Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees, (If our loves remain) In an English lane, By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies. Hark, those two in the hazel coppice--A boy and a girl, if the good fates please, Making love, say,--The happier they! Draw yourself up from the light of the moon, And let them pass, as they will too soon, With the bean-flowers' boon, And the blackbird's tune, And May, and June! What I love best in all the world Is a castle, precipice-encurled, In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine Or look for me, old fellow of mine, (If I get my head from out the mouth O' the grave, and loose my spirit's bands, And come again to the land of lands)--In a sea-side house to the farther South, Where the baked cicala dies of drouth, And one sharp tree---'tis a cypress---stands, By the many hundred years red-rusted, Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o'ercrusted, My sentinel to guard the sands To the water's edge. For, what expands Before the house, but the great opaque Blue breadth of sea without a break? While, in the house, for ever crumbles Some fragment of the frescoed walls, From blisters where a scorpion sprawls. A girl bare-footed brings, and tumbles Down on the pavement, green-flesh melons, And says there's news to-day---the king Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing, Goes with his Bourbon arm in a sling: ---She hopes they have not caught the felons. Italy, my Italy! Queen Mary's saying serves for me--(When fortune's malice Lost her---Calais)--Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it, ``Italy.'' Such lovers old are I and she: So it always was, so shall ever be!
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II.

Robert Browning

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Dtatue And The Bust, The There's a palace in Florence, the world knows well, And a statue watches it from the square, And this story of both do our townsmen tell. Ages ago, a lady there, At the farthest window facing the East Asked, ``Who rides by with the royal air?''

The bridesmaids' prattle around her ceased; She leaned forth, one on either hand; They saw how the blush of the bride increased--They felt by its beats her heart expand--As one at each ear and both in a breath Whispered, ``The Great-Duke Ferdinand.'' That self-same instant, underneath, The Duke rode past in his idle way, Empty and fine like a swordless sheath.

Gay he rode, with a friend as gay, Till he threw his head back---``Who is she?'' ---``A bride the Riccardi brings home to-day.'' Hair in heaps lay heavily Over a pale brow spirit-pure--Carved like the heart of a coal-black tree,

Crisped like a war-steed's encolure<*1>--And vainly sought to dissemble her eyes Of the blackest black our eyes endure.

And lo, a blade for a knight's emprise Filled the fine empty sheath of a man,--The Duke grew straightway brave and wise. He looked at her, as a lover can; She looked at him, as one who awakes: The past was a sleep, and her life began.

Now, love so ordered for both their sakes, A feast was held that selfsame night In the pile which the mighty shadow makes. (For Via Larga is three-parts light, But the palace overshadows one, Because of a crime which may God requite! To Florence and God the wrong was done, Through the first republic's murder there By Cosimo and his cursed son.)
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The Duke (with the statue's face in the square) Turned in the midst of his multitude At the bright approach of the bridal pair.

Face to face the lovers stood A single minute and no more, While the bridegroom bent as a man subdued--Bowed till his bonnet brushed the floor--For the Duke on the lady a kiss conferred, As the courtly custom was of yore. In a minute can lovers exchange a word? If a word did pass, which I do not think, Only one out of the thousand heard. That was the bridegroom. At day's brink He and his bride were alone at last In a bedchamber by a taper's blink.

Calmly he said that her lot was cast, That the door she had passed was shut on her Till the final catafalk<*2> repassed. The world meanwhile, its noise and stir, Through a certain window facing the East, She could watch like a convent's chronicler.

Since passing the door might lead to a feast, And a feast might lead to so much beside, He, of many evils, chose the least.

``Freely I choose too,'' said the bride--``Your window and its world suffice,'' Replied the tongue, while the heart replied--``If I spend the night with that devil twice, ``May his window serve as my loop of hell ``Whence a damned soul looks on paradise! ``I fly to the Duke who loves me well, ``Sit by his side and laugh at sorrow ``Ere I count another ave-bell.

``'Tis only the coat of a page to borrow, ``And tie my hair in a horse-boy's trim, ``And I save my soul---but not to-morrow''--(She checked herself and her eye grew dim) ``My father tarries to bless my state: ``I must keep it one day more for him.
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``Is one day more so long to wait? ``Moreover the Duke rides past, I know; ``We shall see each other, sure as fate.''

She turned on her side and slept. Just so! So we resolve on a thing and sleep: So did the lady, ages ago.

That night the Duke said, ``Dear or cheap ``As the cost of this cup of bliss may prove ``To body or soul, I will drain it deep.'' And on the morrow, bold with love, He beckoned the bridegroom (close on call, As his duty bade, by the Duke's alcove) And smiled ``'Twas a very funeral, ``Your lady will think, this feast of ours,--``A shame to efface, whate'er befall!

``What if we break from the Arno bowers, ``And try if Petraja, cool and green, ``Cure last night's fault with this morning's flowers?'' The bridegroom, not a thought to be seen On his steady brow and quiet mouth, Said, ``Too much favour for me so mean!

``But, alas! my lady leaves the South; ``Each wind that comes from the Apennine ``Is a menace to her tender youth: ``Nor a way exists, the wise opine, ``If she quits her palace twice this year, ``To avert the flower of life's decline.''

Quoth the Duke, ``A sage and a kindly fear. ``Moreover Petraja is cold this spring: ``Be our feast to-night as usual here!''

And then to himself---``Which night shall bring Thy bride to her lover's embraces, fool--Or I am the fool, and thou art the king!

``Yet my passion must wait a night, nor cool--``For to-night the Envoy arrives from France ``Whose heart I unlock with thyself, my tool. ``I need thee still and might miss perchance. ``To-day is not wholly lost, beside, ``With its hope of my lady's countenance:
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``For I ride---what should I do but ride? ``And passing her palace, if I list, ``May glance at its window---well betide!''

So said, so done: nor the lady missed One ray that broke from the ardent brow, Nor a curl of the lips where the spirit kissed. Be sure that each renewed the vow, No morrow's sun should arise---and set And leave them then as it left them now.

But next day passed, and next day yet, With still fresh cause to wait one day more Ere each leaped over the parapet. And still, as love's brief morning wore, With a gentle start, half smile, half sigh, They found love not as it seemed before.

They thought it would work infallibly, But not in despite of heaven and earth: The rose would blow when the storm passed by. Meantime they could profit in winter's dearth By store of fruits that supplant the rose: The world and its ways have a certain worth: And to press a point while these oppose Were simple policy; better wait: We lose no friends and we gain no foes.

Meantime, worse fates than a lover's fate, Who daily may ride and pass and look Where his lady watches behind the grate!

And she---she watched the square like a book holding one picture and only one, Which daily to find she undertook:

When the picture was reached the book was done, And she turned from the picture at night to scheme Of tearing it out for herself next sun. So weeks grew months, years; gleam by gleam The glory dropped from their youth and love, And both perceived they had dreamed a dream; Which hovered as dreams do, still above: But who can take a dream for a truth? Oh, hide our eyes from the next remove!
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One day as the lady saw her youth Depart, and the silver thread that streaked Her hair, and, worn by the serpent's tooth,

The brow so puckered, the chin so peaked,--And wondered who the woman was, Hollow-eyed and haggard-cheeked, Fronting her silent in the glass--``Summon here,'' she suddenly said, ``Before the rest of my old self pass,

``Him, the Carver, a hand to aid, ``Who fashions the clay no love will change, ``And fixes a beauty never to fade. ``Let Robbia's craft so apt and strange ``Arrest the remains of young and fair, ``And rivet them while the seasons range. ``Make me a face on the window there, ``Waiting as ever, mute the while, ``My love to pass below in the square!

``And let me think that it may beguile ``Dreary days which the dead must spend ``Down in their darkness under the aisle,

``To say, `What matters it at the end? `` `I did no more while my heart was warm `` `Than does that image, my pale-faced friend.' ``Where is the use of the lip's red charm, ``The heaven of hair, the pride of the brow, ``And the blood that blues the inside arm--``Unless we turn as the soul knows how, ``The earthly gift to an end divine? ``A lady of clay is as good, I trow.''

But long ere Robbia's cornice, fine, With flowers and fruits which leaves enlace, Was set where now is the empty shrine--(And, leaning out of a bright blue space, As a ghost might lean from a chink of sky, The passionate pale lady's face---

Eyeing ever, with earnest eye And quick-turned neck at its breathless stretch, Some one who ever is passing by---)
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The Duke had sighed like the simplest wretch In Florence, ``Youth---my dream escapes! Will its record stay?'' And he bade them fetch Some subtle moulder of brazen shapes--``Can the soul, the will, die out of a man ``Ere his body find the grave that gapes?

``John of Douay<*3> shall effect my plan, ``Set me on horseback here aloft, ``Alive, as the crafty sculptor can,

``In the very square I have crossed so oft: ``That men may admire, when future suns ``Shall touch the eyes to a purpose soft,

``While the mouth and the brow stay brave in bronze--``Admire and say, `When he was alive `` `How he would take his pleasure once!' ``And it shall go hard but I contrive ``To listen the while, and laugh in my tomb ``At idleness which aspires to strive.'' So! While these wait the trump of doom, How do their spirits pass, I wonder, Nights and days in the narrow room? Still, I suppose, they sit and ponder What a gift life was, ages ago, Six steps out of the chapel yonder. Only they see not God, I know, Nor all that chivalry of his, The soldier-saints who, row on row, ------------

Burn upward each to his point of bliss--Since, the end of life being manifest, He had burned his way thro' the world to this.

I hear you reproach, ``But delay was best, For their end was a crime.''---Oh, a crime will do As well, I reply, to serve for a test, As a virtue golden through and through, Sufficient to vindicate itself And prove its worth at a moment's view!

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Must a game be played for the sale of pelf? Where a button goes, 'twere an epigram

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To offer the stamp of the very Guelph.

The true has no value beyond the sham: As well the counter as coin, I submit, When your table's a hat, and your prize a dram. Stake your counter as boldly every whit, Venture as warily, use the same skill, Do your best, whether winning or losing it, If you choose to play!---is my principle. Let a man contend to the uttermost For his life's set prize, be it what it will!

The counter our lovers staked was lost As surely as if it were lawful coin: And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost Is---the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin, Though the end in sight was a vice, I say. You of the virtue (we issue join) How strive you? _De te, fabula!_ *1 Neck and shoulder of a horse.

*2 The stage or scaffolding for a coffin whilst *2 in the church. *3 Giovanni of Bologna, a sculptor. Robert Browning

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Earth's Immortalities FAME. See, as the prettiest graves will do in time, Our poet's wants the freshness of its prime; Spite of the sexton's browsing horse, the sods Have struggled through its binding osier rods; Headstone and half-sunk footstone lean awry, Wanting the brick-work promised by-and-by; How the minute grey lichens, plate o'er plate, Have softened down the crisp-cut name and date! So, the year's done with (_Love me for ever!_) All March begun with, April's endeavour; May-wreaths that bound me June needs must sever; Now snows fall round me, Quenching June's fever--(_Love me for ever!_) Robert Browning LOVE.

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Englishman In Italy, The PIANO DI SORRENTO Fort<u`>, Fort<u`>, my beloved one, Sit here by my side, On my knees put up both little feet! I was sure, if I tried, I could make you laugh spite of Scirocco. Now, open your eyes, Let me keep you amused till he vanish In black from the skies, With telling my memories over As you tell your beads; All the Plain saw me gather, I garland ---The flowers or the weeds.

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Time for rain! for your long hot dry Autumn Had net-worked with brown The white skin of each grape on the bunches, Marked like a quail's crown, Those creatures you make such account of, Whose heads,---speckled white Over brown like a great spider's back, As I told you last night,--Your mother bites off for her supper. Red-ripe as could be, Pomegranates were chapping and splitting In halves on the tree: And betwixt the loose walls of great flint-stone, Or in the thick dust On the path, or straight out of the rock-side, Wherever could thrust Some burnt sprig of bold hardy rock-flower Its yellow face up, For the prize were great butterflies fighting, Some five for one cup. So, I guessed, ere I got up this morning, What change was in store, By the quick rustle-down of the quail-nets Which woke me before I could open my shutter, made fast With a bough and a stone, And look thro' the twisted dead vine-twigs, Sole lattice that's known. Quick and sharp rang the rings down the net-poles, While, busy beneath, Your priest and his brother tugged at them, The rain in their teeth. And out upon all the flat house-roofs Where split figs lay drying, The girls took the frails under cover: Nor use seemed in trying To get out the boats and go fishing,

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For, under the cliff, Fierce the black water frothed o'er the blind-rock. No seeing our skiff Arrive about noon from Amalfi, ---Our fisher arrive And pitch down his basket before us, All trembling alive With pink and grey jellies, your sea-fruit; You touch the strange lumps, And mouths gape there, eyes open, all manner Of horns and of humps, Which only the fisher looks grave at, While round him like imps Cling screaming the children as naked And brown as his shrimps; Himself too as bare to the middle ---You see round his neck The string and its brass coin suspended, That saves him from wreck. But to-day not a bout reached Salerno, So back, to a man, Came our friends, with whose help in the vineyards Grape-harvest began. In the vat, halfway up in our house-side, Like blood the juice spins, While your brother all bare-legged is dancing Till breathless he grins Dead-beaten in effort on effort To keep the grapes under, Since still when he seems all but master, In pours the fresh plunder From girls who keep coming and going With basket on shoulder, And eyes shut against the rain's driving; Your girls that are older,--For under the hedges of aloe, And where, on its bed Of the orchard's black mould, the love-apple Lies pulpy and red, All the young ones are kneeling and filling Their laps with the snails Tempted out by this first rainy weather,--Your best of regales, As to-night will be proved to my sorrow, When, supping in state, We shall feast our grape-gleaners (two dozen, Three over one plate) With lasagne so tempting to swallow In slippery ropes, And gourds fried in great purple slices, That colour of popes. Meantime, see the grape bunch they've brought you:

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The rain-water slips O'er the heavy blue bloom on each globe Which the wasp to your lips Still follows with fretful persistence: Nay, taste, while awake, This half of a curd-white smooth cheese-ball That peels, flake by flake, Like an onion, each smoother and whiter; Next, sip this weak wine From the thin green glass flask, with its stopper, A leaf of the vine; And end with the prickly-pear's red flesh That leaves thro' its juice The stony black seeds on your pearl-teeth. Scirocco is loose! Hark, the quick, whistling pelt of the olives Which, thick in one's track, Tempt the stranger to pick up and bite them, Tho' not yet half black! How the old twisted olive trunks shudder, The medlars let fall Their hard fruit, and the brittle great fig-trees Snap off, figs and all, For here comes the whole of the tempest! No refuge, but creep Back again to my side and my shoulder, And listen or sleep. O how will your country show next week, When all the vine-boughs Have been stripped of their foliage to pasture The mules and the cows? Last eve, I rode over the mountains; Your brother, my guide, Soon left me, to feast on the myrtles That offered, each side, Their fruit-balls, black, glossy and luscious,--Or strip from the sorbs A treasure, or, rosy and wondrous, Those hairy gold orbs! But my mule picked his sure sober path out, Just stopping to neigh When he recognized down in the valley His mates on their way With the faggots and barrels of water; And soon we emerged From the plain, where the woods could scarce follow; And still as we urged Our way, the woods wondered, and left us, As up still we trudged Though the wild path grew wilder each instant, And place was e'en grudged 'Mid the rock-chasms and piles of loose stones

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Like the loose broken teeth Of some monster which climbed there to die From the ocean beneath--Place was grudged to the silver-grey fume-weed That clung to the path, And dark rosemary ever a-dying That, 'spite the wind's wrath, So loves the salt rock's face to seaward, And lentisks*1 as staunch To the stone where they root and bear berries, And ... what shows a branch Coral-coloured, transparent, with circlets Of pale seagreen leaves; Over all trod my mule with the caution Of gleaners o'er sheaves, Still, foot after foot like a lady, Till, round after round, He climbed to the top of Calvano, And God's own profound Was above me, and round me the mountains, And under, the sea, And within me my heart to bear witness What was and shall be. Oh, heaven and the terrible crystal! No rampart excludes Your eye from the life to be lived In the blue solitudes. Oh, those mountains, their infinite movement! Still moving with you; For, ever some new head and breast of them Thrusts into view To observe the intruder; you see it If quickly you turn And before they escape you surprise them. They grudge you should learn How the soft plains they look on, lean over And love (they pretend) ---Cower beneath them, the flat sea-pine crouches, The wild fruit-trees bend, E'en the myrtle-leaves curl, shrink and shut: All is silent and grave: 'Tis a sensual and timorous beauty, How fair! but a slave. So, I turned to the sea; and there slumbered As greenly as ever Those isles of the siren, your Galli; No ages can sever The Three, nor enable their sister To join them,---halfway On the voyage, she looked at Ulysses--No farther to-day, Tho' the small one, just launched in the wave,

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Watches breast-high and steady From under the rock, her bold sister Swum halfway already. Fort<u`>, shall we sail there together And see from the sides Quite new rocks show their faces, new haunts Where the siren abides? Shall we sail round and round them, close over The rocks, tho' unseen, That ruffle the grey glassy water To glorious green? Then scramble from splinter to splinter, Reach land and explore, On the largest, the strange square black turret With never a door, Just a loop to admit the quick lizards; Then, stand there and hear The birds' quiet singing, that tells us What life is, so clear? ---The secret they sang to Ulysses When, ages ago, He heard and he knew this life's secret I hear and I know. Ah, see! The sun breaks o'er Calvano; He strikes the great gloom And flutters it o'er the mount's summit In airy gold fume. All is over. Look out, see the gipsy, Our tinker and smith, Has arrived, set up bellows and forge, And down-squatted forthwith To his hammering, under the wall there; One eye keeps aloof The urchins that itch to be putting His jews'-harps to proof, While the other, thro' locks of curled wire, Is watching how sleek Shines the hog, come to share in the windfall ---Chew, abbot's own cheek! All is over. Wake up and come out now, And down let us go, And see the fine things got in order At church for the show Of the Sacrament, set forth this evening. To-morrow's the Feast Of the Rosary's Virgin, by no means Of Virgins the least, As you'll hear in the off-hand discourse Which (all nature, no art) The Dominican brother, these three weeks, Was getting by heart.

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Not a pillar nor post but is dizened With red and blue papers; All the roof waves with ribbons, each altar A-blaze with long tapers; But the great masterpiece is the scaffold Rigged glorious to hold All the fiddlers and fifers and drummers And trumpeters bold, Not afraid of Bellini nor Auber, Who, when the priest's hoarse, Will strike us up something that's brisk For the feast's second course. And then will the flaxen-wigged Image Be carried in pomp Thro' the plain, while in gallant procession The priests mean to stomp. All round the glad church lie old bottles With gunpowder stopped, Which will be, when the Image re-enters, Religiously popped; And at night from the crest of Calvano Great bonfires will hang, On the plain will the trumpets join chorus, And more poppers bang. At all events, come---to the garden As far as the wall; See me tap with a hoe on the plaster Till out there shall fall A scorpion with wide angry nippers!

---``Such trifles!'' you say? Fort<u`>, in my England at home, Men meet gravely to-day And debate, if abolishing Corn-laws Be righteous and wise ---If 'twere proper, Scirocco should vanish In black from the skies! *1 The mastic tree (resinous). Robert Browning

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Epilogue At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time, When you set your fancies free, Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned-Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so, --Pity me? Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! What had I on earth to do With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly? Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel --Being--who?

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake. No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time Greet the unseen with a cheer! Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be, "Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,--fight on, fare ever There as here!" Robert Browning

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Epilogue To Asolando At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time, When you set your fancies free, Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned-Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so, --Pity me? Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! What had I on earth to do With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly? Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel --Being--who?

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake. No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time Greet the unseen with a cheer! Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be, "Strive and thrive!" cry, "Speed--fight on, fare ever There as here!" Robert Browning

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Evelyn Hope I. Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead! Sit and watch by her side an hour. That is her book-shelf, this her bed; She plucked that piece of geranium-flower, Beginning to die too, in the glass; Little has yet been changed, I think: The shutters are shut, no light may pass Save two long rays thro' the hinge's chink. Sixteen years old, when she died! Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name; It was not her time to love; beside, Her life had many a hope and aim, Duties enough and little cares, And now was quiet, now astir, Till God's hand beckoned unawares,--And the sweet white brow is all of her. Is it too late then, Evelyn Hope? What, your soul was pure and true, The good stars met in your horoscope, Made you of spirit, fire and dew--And, just because I was thrice as old And our paths in the world diverged so wide, Each was nought to each, must I be told? We were fellow mortals, nought beside? No, indeed! for God above Is great to grant, as mighty to make, And creates the love to reward the love: I claim you still, for my own love's sake! Delayed it may be for more lives yet, Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few: Much is to learn, much to forget Ere the time be come for taking you. But the time will come,---at last it will, When, Evelyn Hope, what meant (I shall say) In the lower earth, in the years long still, That body and soul so pure and gay? Why your hair was amber, I shall divine, And your mouth of your own geranium's red--V. IV. III. II.

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And what you would do with me, in fine, In the new life come in the old one's stead. I have lived (I shall say) so much since then, Given up myself so many times, Gained me the gains of various men, Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes; Yet one thing, one, in my soul's full scope, Either I missed or itself missed me: And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope! What is the issue? let us see! I loved you, Evelyn, all the while. My heart seemed full as it could hold? There was place and to spare for the frank young smile, And the red young mouth, and the hair's young gold. So, hush,---I will give you this leaf to keep: See, I shut it inside the sweet cold hand! There, that is our secret: go to sleep! You will wake, and remember, and understand. Robert Browning VII. VI.

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Flight Of The Duchess, The You're my friend: I was the man the Duke spoke to; I helped the Duchess to cast off his yoke, too; So here's the tale from beginning to end, My friend! Ours is a great wild country: If you climb to our castle's top, I don't see where your eye can stop; For when you've passed the cornfield country, Where vineyards leave off, flocks are packed, And sheep-range leads to cattle-tract, And cattle-tract to open-chase, And open-chase to the very base Of the mountain where, at a funeral pace, Round about, solemn and slow, One by one, row after row, Up and up the pine-trees go, So, like black priests up, and so Down the other side again To another greater, wilder country, That's one vast red drear burnt-up plain, Branched through and through with many a vein Whence iron's dug, and copper's dealt; Look right, look left, look straight before,--Beneath they mine, above they smelt, Copper-ore and iron-ore, And forge and furnace mould and melt, And so on, more and ever more, Till at the last, for a bounding belt, Comes the salt sand hoar of the great sea-shore, ---And the whole is our Duke's country. I was born the day this present Duke was--(And O, says the song, ere I was old!) In the castle where the other Duke was--(When I was happy and young, not old!) I in the kennel, he in the bower: We are of like age to an hour. My father was huntsman in that day; Who has not heard my father say That, when a boar was brought to bay, Three times, four times out of five, With his huntspear he'd contrive To get the killing-place transfixed, And pin him true, both eyes betwixt? III. II. I.

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And that's why the old Duke would rather He lost a salt-pit than my father, And loved to have him ever in call; That's why my father stood in the hall When the old Duke brought his infant out To show the people, and while they passed The wondrous bantling round about, Was first to start at the outside blast As the Kaiser's courier blew his horn Just a month after the babe was born. ``And,'' quoth the Kaiser's courier, ``since ``The Duke has got an heir, our Prince ``Needs the Duke's self at his side: '' The Duke looked down and seemed to wince, But he thought of wars o'er the world wide, Castles a-fire, men on their march, The toppling tower, the crashing arch; And up he looked, and awhile he eyed The row of crests and shields and banners Of all achievements after all manners, And ``ay,'' said the Duke with a surly pride. The more was his comfort when he died At next year's end, in a velvet suit, With a gilt glove on his hand, his foot In a silken shoe for a leather boot, Petticoated like a herald, In a chamher next to an ante-room, Where he breathed the breath of page and groom, What he called stink, and they, perfume: ---They should have set him on red Berold Mad with pride, like fire to manage! They should have got his cheek fresh tannage Such a day as to-day in the merry sunshine! Had they stuck on his fist a rough-foot merlin! (Hark, the wind's on the heath at its game! Oh for a noble falcon-lanner To flap each broad wing like a banner, And turn in the wind, and dance like flame!) Had they broached a white-beer cask from Berlin ---Or if you incline to prescribe mere wine Put to his lips, when they saw him pine, A cup of our own Moldavia fine, Cotnar for instance, green as May sorrel And ropy with sweet,---we shall not quarrel. So, at home, the sick tall yellow Duchess Was left with the infant in her clutches, She being the daughter of God knows who: And now was the time to revisit her tribe. Abroad and afar they went, the two, IV.

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And let our people rail and gibe At the empty hall and extinguished fire, As loud as we liked, but ever in vain, Till after long years we had our desire, And back came the Duke and his mother again. And he came back the pertest little ape That ever affronted human shape; Full of his travel, struck at himself. You'd say, he despised our bluff old ways? ---Not he! For in Paris they told the elf Our rough North land was the Land of Lays, The one good thing left in evil days; Since the Mid-Age was the Heroic Time, And only in wild nooks like ours Could you taste of it yet as in its prime, And see true castles, with proper towers, Young-hearted women, old-minded men, And manners now as manners were then. So, all that the old Dukes had been, without knowing it, This Duke would fain know he was, without being it; 'Twas not for the joy's self, but the joy of his showing it, Nor for the pride's self, but the pride of our seeing it, He revived all usages thoroughly worn-out, The souls of them fumed-forth, the hearts of them torn-out: And chief in the chase his neck he perilled On a lathy horse, all legs and length, With blood for bone, all speed, no strength; ---They should have set him on red Berold With the red eye slow consuming in fire, And the thin stiff ear like an abbey-spire! Well, such as he was, he must marry, we heard: And out of a convent, at the word, Came the lady, in time of spring. ---Oh, old thoughts they cling, they cling! That day, I know, with a dozen oaths I clad myself in thick hunting-clothes Fit for the chase of urochs or buffle In winter-time when you need to muffle. But the Duke had a mind we should cut a figure, And so we saw the lady arrive: My friend, I have seen a white crane bigger! She was the smallest lady alive, Made in a piece of nature's madness, Too small, almost, for the life and gladness That over-filled her, as some hive Out of the bears' reach on the high trees VI. V.

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Is crowded with its safe merry bees: In truth, she was not hard to please! Up she looked, down she looked, round at the mead, Straight at the castle, that's best indeed To look at from outside the walls: As for us, styled the ``serfs and thralls,'' She as much thanked me as if she had said it, (With her eyes, do you understand?) Because I patted her horse while I led it; And Max, who rode on her other hand, Said, no bird flew past but she inquired What its true name was, nor ever seemed tired--If that was an eagle she saw hover, And the green and grey bird on the field was the plover. When suddenly appeared the Duke: And as down she sprung, the small foot pointed On to my hand,---as with a rebuke, And as if his backbone were not jointed, The Duke stepped rather aside than forward, And welcomed her with his grandest smile; And, mind you, his mother all the while Chilled in the rear, like a wind to Nor'ward; And up, like a weary yawn, with its pullies Went, in a shriek, the rusty portcullis; And, like a glad sky the north-wind sullies, The lady's face stopped its play, As if her first hair had grown grey; For such things must begin some one day. In a day or two she was well again; As who should say, ``You labour in vain! ``This is all a jest against God, who meant ``I should ever be, as I am, content `` And glad in his sight; therefore, glad I will be.'' So, smiling as at first went she. She was active, stirring, all fire--Could not rest, could not tire--To a stone she might have given life! (I myself loved once, in my day) ---For a shepherd's, miner's, huntsman's wife, (I had a wife, I know what I say) Never in all the world such an one! And here was plenty to be done, And she that could do it, great or small, She was to do nothing at all. There was already this man in his post, This in his station, and that in his office, VIII. VII.

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And the Duke's plan admitted a wife, at most, To meet his eye, with the other trophies, Now outside the hall, now in it, To sit thus, stand thus, see and be seen, At the proper place in the proper minute, And die away the life between. And it was amusing enough, each infraction Of rule---(but for after-sadness that came) To hear the consummate self-satisfaction With which the young Duke and the old dame Would let her advise, and criticise, And, being a fool, instruct the wise, And, child-like, parcel out praise or blame: They bore it all in complacent guise, As though an artificer, after contriving A wheel-work image as if it were living, Should find with delight it could motion to strike him! So found the Duke, and his mother like him: The lady hardly got a rebuff--That had not been contemptuous enough, With his cursed smirk, as he nodded applause, And kept off the old mother-cat's claws. So, the little lady grew silent and thin, Paling and ever paling, As the way is with a hid chagrin; And the Duke perceived that she was ailing, And said in his heart, ``'Tis done to spite me, ``But I shall find in my power to right me!'' Don't swear, friend! The old one, many a year, Is in hell, and the Duke's self . . . you shall hear. Well, early in autumn, at first winter-warning, When the stag had to break with his foot, of a morning, A drinking-hole out of the fresh tender ice That covered the pond till the sun, in a trice, Loosening it, let out a ripple of gold, And another and another, and faster and faster, Till, dimpling to blindness, the wide water rolled: Then it so chanced that the Duke our master Asked himself what were the pleasures in season, And found, since the calendar bade him be hearty, He should do the Middle Age no treason In resolving on a hunting-party. Always provided, old books showed the way of it! What meant old poets by their strictures? And when old poets had said their say of it, How taught old painters in their pictures? X. IX.

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We must revert to the proper channels, Workings in tapestry, paintings on panels, And gather up woodcraft's authentic traditions: Here was food for our various ambitions, As on each case, exactly stated--To encourage your dog, now, the properest chirrup, Or best prayer to Saint Hubert on mounting your stirrup--We of the house hold took thought and debated. Blessed was he whose back ached with the jerkin His sire was wont to do forest-work in; Blesseder he who nobly sunk ``ohs'' And ``ahs'' while he tugged on his grand-sire's trunk-hose; What signified hats if they had no rims on, Each slouching before and behind like the scallop, And able to serve at sea for a shallop, Loaded with lacquer and looped with crimson? So that the deer now, to make a short rhyme on't, What with our Venerers, Prickers and Yerderers, Might hope for real hunters at length and not murderers, And oh the Duke's tailor, he had a hot time on't! Now you must know that when the first dizziness Of flap-hats and buff-coats and jack-boots subsided, The Duke put this question, ``The Duke's part provided, ``Had not the Duchess some share in the business?'' For out of the mouth of two or three witnesses Did he establish all fit-or-unfitnesses: And, after much laying of heads together, Somebody's cap got a notable feather By the announcement with proper unction That he had discovered the lady's function; Since ancient authors gave this tenet, ``When horns wind a mort and the deer is at siege, ``Let the dame of the castle prick forth on her jennet, ``And, with water to wash the hands of her liege ``In a clean ewer with a fair toweling, `` Let her preside at the disemboweling.'' Now, my friend, if you had so little religion As to catch a hawk, some falcon-lanner, And thrust her broad wings like a banner Into a coop for a vulgar pigeon; And if day by day and week by week You cut her claws, and sealed her eyes, And clipped her wings, and tied her beak, Would it cause you any great surprise If, when you decided to give her an airing, You found she needed a little preparing? ---I say, should you be such a curmudgeon, If she clung to the perch, as to take it in dudgeon? Yet when the Duke to his lady signified, XI.

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Just a day before, as he judged most dignified, In what a pleasure she was to participate,--And, instead of leaping wide in flashes, Her eyes just lifted their long lashes, As if pressed by fatigue even he could not dissipate, And duly acknowledged the Duke's forethought, But spoke of her health, if her health were worth aught, Of the weight by day and the watch by night, And much wrong now that used to be right, So, thanking him, declined the hunting,--Was conduct ever more affronting? With all the ceremony settled--With the towel ready, and the sewer Polishing up his oldest ewer, And the jennet pitched upon, a piebald, Black-barred, cream-coated and pink eye-balled,--No wonder if the Duke was nettled And when she persisted nevertheless,--Well, I suppose here's the time to confess That there ran half round our lady's chamber A balcony none of the hardest to clamber; And that Jacynth the tire-woman, ready in waiting, Stayed in call outside, what need of relating? And since Jacynth was like a June rose, why, a fervent Adorer of Jacynth of course was your servant; And if she had the habit to peep through the casement, How could I keep at any vast distance? And so, as I say, on the lady's persistence, The Duke, dumb-stricken with amazement, Stood for a while in a sultry smother, And then, with a smile that partook of the awful, Turned her over to his yellow mother To learn what was held decorous and lawful; And the mother smelt blood with a cat-like instinct, As her cheek quick whitened thro' all its quince-tinct. Oh, but the lady heard the whole truth at once! What meant she?--Who was she?---Her duty and station, The wisdom of age and the folly of youth, at once, Its decent regard and its fitting relation--In brief, my friend, set all the devils in hell free And turn them out to carouse in a belfry And treat the priests to a fifty-part canon, And then you may guess how that tongue of hers ran on! Well, somehow or other it ended at last And, licking her whiskers, out she passed; And after her,---making (he hoped) a face Like Emperor Nero or Sultan Saladin, Stalked the Duke's self with the austere grace Of ancient hero or modern paladin, From door to staircase---oh such a solemn Unbending of the vertebral column!
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However, at sunrise our company mustered; And here was the huntsman bidding unkennel, And there 'neath his bonnet the pricker blustered, With feather dank as a bough of wet fennel; For the court-yard walls were filled with fog You might have cut as an axe chops a log--Like so much wool for colour and bulkiness; And out rode the Duke in a perfect sulkiness, Since, before breakfast, a man feels but queasily, And a sinking at the lower abdomen Begins the day with indifferent omen. And lo, as he looked around uneasily, The sun ploughed the fog up and drove it asunder This way and that from the valley under; And, looking through the court-yard arch, Down in the valley, what should meet him But a troop of Gipsies on their march? No doubt with the annual gifts to greet him. Now, in your land, Gipsies reach you, only After reaching all lands beside; North they go, South they go, trooping or lonely, And still, as they travel far and wide, Catch they and keep now a trace here, trace there, That puts you in mind of a place here, a place there. But with us, I believe they rise out of the ground, And nowhere else, I take it, are found With the earth-tint yet so freshly embrowned: Born, no doubt, like insects which breed on The very fruit they are meant to feed on. For the earth---not a use to which they don't turn it, The ore that grows in the mountain's womb, Or the sand in the pits like a honeycomb, They sift and soften it, bake it and burn it--Whether they weld you, for instance, a snaffle With side-bars never a brute can baffle; Or a lock that's a puzzle of wards within wards; Or, if your colt's fore-foot inclines to curve inwards, Horseshoes they hammer which turn on a swivel And won't allow the hoof to shrivel. Then they cast bells like the shell of the winkle That keep a stout heart in the ram with their tinkle; But the sand---they pinch and pound it like otters; Commend me to Gipsy glass-makers and potters! Glasses they'll blow you, crystal-clear, Where just a faint cloud of rose shall appear, As if in pure water you dropped and let die A bruised black-blooded mulberry; XIII.

XII.

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And that other sort, their crowning pride, With long white threads distinct inside, Like the lake-flower's fibrous roots which dangle Loose such a length and never tangle, Where the bold sword-lily cuts the clear waters, And the cup-lily couches with all the white daughters: Such are the works they put their hand to, The uses they turn and twist iron and sand to. And these made the troop, which our Duke saw sally Toward his castle from out of the valley, Men and women, like new-hatched spiders, Come out with the morning to greet our riders. And up they wound till they reached the ditch, Whereat all stopped save one, a witch That I knew, as she hobbled from the group, By her gait directly and her stoop, I, whom Jacynth was used to importune To let that same witch tell us our fortune. The oldest Gipsy then above ground; And, sure as the autumn season came round, She paid us a visit for profit or pastime, And every time, as she swore, for the last time. And presently she was seen to sidle Up to the Duke till she touched his bridle, So that the horse of a sudden reared up As under its nose the old witch peered up With her worn-out eyes, or rather eye-holes Of no use now but to gather brine, And began a kind of level whine Such as they used to sing to their viols When their ditties they go grinding Up and down with nobody minding: And then, as of old, at the end of the humming Her usual presents were forthcoming ---A dog-whistle blowing the fiercest of trebles, (Just a sea-shore stone holding a dozen fine pebbles,) Or a porcelain mouth-piece to screw on a pipe-end,--And so she awaited her annual stipend. But this time, the Duke would scarcely vouchsafe A word in reply; and in vain she felt With twitching fingers at her belt For the purse of sleek pine-martin pelt, Ready to ptlt what he gave in her pouch safe,--Till, either to quicken his apprehension, Or possibly with an after-intention, She was come, she said, to pay her duty To the new Duchess, the youthful beauty. No sooner had she named his lady, Than a shine lit up the face so shady, And its smirk returned with a novel meaning--For it struck him, the babe just wanted weaning; If one gave her a taste of what life was and sorrow,

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She, foolish to-day, would be wiser tomorrow; And who so fit a teacher of trouble As this sordid crone bent well-nigh double? So, glancing at her wolf-skin vesture, (If such it was, for they grow so hirsute That their own fleece serves for natural fur-suit) He was contrasting, 'twas plain from his gesture, The life of the lady so flower-like and delicate With the loathsome squalor of this helicat. I, in brief, was the man the Duke beckoned From out of the throng, and while I drew near He told the crone---as I since have reckoned By the way he bent and spoke into her ear With circumspection and mystery--The main of the lady's history, Her frowardness and ingratitude: And for all the crone's submissive attitude I could see round her mouth the loose plaits tightening, And her brow with assenting intelligence brightening, As though she engaged with hearty good-will Whatever he now might enjoin to fulfil, And promised the lady a thorough frightening. And so, just giving her a glimpse Of a purse, with the air of a man who imps The wing of the hawk that shall fetch the hernshaw, He bade me take the Gipsy mother And set her telling some story or other Of hill or dale, oak-wood or fernshaw, To wile away a weary hour For the lady left alone in her bower, Whose mind and body craved exertion And yet shrank from all better diversion. Then clapping heel to his horse, the mere curveter, Out rode the Duke, and after his hollo Horses and hounds swept, huntsman and servitor, And back I turned and bade the crone follow. And what makes me confident what's to be told you Had all along been of this crone's devising, Is, that, on looking round sharply, behold you, There was a novelty quick as surprising: For first, she had shot up a full head in stature, And her step kept pace with mine nor faltered, As if age had foregone its usurpature, And the ignoble mien was wholly altered, And the face looked quite of another nature, And the change reached too, whatever the change meant, Her shaggy wolf-skin cloak's arrangement: For where its tatters hung loose like sedges, Gold coins were glittering on the edges, XIV.

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Like the band-roll strung with tomans Which proves the veil a Persian woman's. And under her brow, like a snail's horns newly Come out as after the rain he paces, Two unmistakeable eye-points duly Live and aware looked out of their places. So, we went and found Jacynth at the entry Of the lady's chamber standing sentry; I told the command and produced my companion, And Jacynth rejoiced to admit any one, For since last night, by the same token, Not a single word had the lady spoken: They went in both to the presence together, While I in the balcony watched the weather. And now, what took place at the very first of all, I cannot tell, as I never could learn it: Jacynth constantly wished a curse to fall On that little head of hers and burn it If she knew how she came to drop so soundly Asleep of a sudden and there continue The whole time sleeping as profoundly As one of the boars my father would pin you 'Twixt the eyes where life holds garrison, ---Jacynth forgive me the comparison! But where I begin asy own narration Is a little after I took my station To breathe the fresh air from the balcony, And, having in those days a falcon eye, To follow the hunt thro' the open country, From where the bushes thinlier crested The hillocks, to a plain where's not one tree. When, in a moment, my ear was arrested By---was it singing, or was it saying, Or a strange musical instrument playing In the chamber?---and to be certain I pushed the lattice, pulled the curtain, And there lay Jacynth asleep, Yet as if a watch she tried to keep, In a rosy sleep along the floor With her head against the door; While in the midst, on the seat of state, Was a queen---the Gipsy woman late, With head and face downbent On the lady's head and face intent: For, coiled at her feet like a child at ease, The lady sat between her knees And o'er them the lady's clasped hands met, And on those hands her chin was set, And her upturned face met the face of the crone XV.

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Wherein the eyes had grown and grown As if she could double and quadruple At pleasure the play of either pupil ---Very like, by her hands' slow fanning, As up and down like a gor-crow's flappers They moved to measure, or bell-clappers. I said ``Is it blessing, is it banning, ``Do they applaud you or burlesque you--``Those hands and fingers with no flesh on?'' But, just as I thought to spring in to the rescue, At once I was stopped by the lady's expression: For it was life her eyes were drinking From the crone's wide pair above unwinking, ---Life's pure fire received without shrinking, Into the heart and breast whose heaving Told you no single drop they were leaving, ---Life, that filling her, passed redundant Into her very hair, back swerving Over each shoulder, loose and abundant, As her head thrown back showed the white throat curving; And the very tresses shared in the pleasure, Moving to the mystic measure, Bounding as the bosom bounded. I stopped short, more and more confounded, As still her cheeks burned and eyes glistened, As she listened and she listened: When all at once a hand detained me, The selfsame contagion gained me, And I kept time to the wondrous chime, Making out words and prose and rhyme, Till it seemed that the music furled Its wings like a task fulfilled, and dropped From under the words it first had propped, And left them midway in the world: Word took word as hand takes hand, I could hear at last, and understand, And when I held the unbroken thread, The Gipsy said:--``And so at last we find my tribe. ``And so I set thee in the midst, ``And to one and all of them describe ``What thou saidst and what thou didst, ``Our long and terrible journey through, ``And all thou art ready to say and do ``In the trials that remain: ``I trace them the vein and the other vein ``That meet on thy brow and part again, ``Making our rapid mystic mark; ``And I bid my people prove and probe ``Each eye's profound and glorious globe ``Till they detect the kindred spark

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``In those depths so dear and dark, ``Like the spots that snap and burst and flee, ``Circling over the midnight sea. ``And on that round young cheek of thine ``I make them recognize the tinge, ``As when of the costly scarlet wine ``They drip so much as will impinge ``And spread in a thinnest scale afloat ``One thick gold drop from the olive's coat ``Over a silver plate whose sheen ``Still thro' the mixture shall be seen. ``For so I prove thee, to one and all, ``Fit, when my people ope their breast, ``To see the sign, and hear the call, ``And take the vow, and stand the test ``Which adds one more child to the rest--``When the breast is bare and the arms are wide, ``And the world is left outside. ``For there is probation to decree, ``And many and long must the trials be ``Thou shalt victoriously endure, ``If that brow is true and those eyes are sure; ``Like a jewel-finder's fierce assay ``Of the prize he dug from its mountain-tomb--``Let once the vindicating ray ``Leap out amid the anxious gloom, ``And steel and fire have done their part ``And the prize falls on its finder's heart; `'So, trial after trial past, ``Wilt thou fall at the very last ``Breathless, half in trance ``With the thrill of the great deliverance, ``Into our arms for evermore; ``And thou shalt know, those arms once curled ``About thee, what we knew before, ``How love is the only good in the world. ``Henceforth be loved as heart can love, ``Or brain devise, or hand approve! ``Stand up, look below, ``It is our life at thy feet we throw ``To step with into light and joy; ``Not a power of life but we employ ``To satisfy thy nature's want; ``Art thou the tree that props the plant, ``Or the climbing plant that seeks the tree--``Canst thou help us, must we help thee? ``If any two creatures grew into one, ``They would do more than the world has done. ``Though each apart were never so weak, ``Ye vainly through the world should seek ``For the knowledge and the might ``Which in such union grew their right:

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``So, to approach at least that end, ``And blend,---as much as may be, blend ``Thee with us or us with thee,--``As climbing plant or propping tree, ``Shall some one deck thee, over and down, ``Up and about, with blossoms and leaves? ``Fix his heart's fruit for thy garland crown, ``Cling with his soul as the gourd-vine cleaves, ``Die on thy boughs and disappear ``While not a leaf of thine is sere? ``Or is the other fate in store, ``And art thou fitted to adore, ``To give thy wondrous self away, ``And take a stronger nature's sway? ``I foresee and could foretell ``Thy future portion, sure and well: ``But those passionate eyes speak true, speak true, ``Let them say what thou shalt do! ``Only be sure thy daily life, ``In its peace or in its strife, ``Never shall be unobserved: ``We pursue thy whole career, ``And hope for it, or doubt, or fear,--``Lo, hast thou kept thy path or swerved, ``We are beside thee in all thy ways, ``With our blame, with our praise, ``Our shame to feel, our pride to show, ``Glad, angry---but indifferent, no! ``Whether it be thy lot to go, ``For the good of us all, where the haters meet ``In the crowded city's horrible street; ``Or thou step alone through the morass ``Where never sound yet was ``Save the dry quick clap of the stork's bill, ``For the air is still, and the water still, ``When the blue breast of the dipping coot ``Dives under, and all is mute. ``So, at the last shall come old age, ``Decrepit as befits that stage; ``How else wouldst thou retire apart ``With the hoarded memories of thy heart, ``And gather all to the very least ``Of the fragments of life's earlier feast, ``Let fall through eagerness to find ``The crowning dainties yet behind? ``Ponder on the entire past ``Laid together thus at last, ``When the twilight helps to fuse ``The first fresh with the faded hues, ``And the outline of the whole, ``As round eve's shades their framework roll, ``Grandly fronts for once thy soul.

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``And then as, 'mid the dark, a glean ``Of yet another morning breaks, ``And like the hand which ends a dream, ``Death, with the might of his sunbeam, ``Touches the flesh and the soul awakes, ``Then------'' Ay, then indeed something would happen! But what? For here her voice changed like a bird's; There grew more of the music and less of the words; Had Jacynth only been by me to clap pen To paper and put you down every syllable With those clever clerkly fingers, All I've forgotten as well as what lingers In this old brain of mine that's but ill able To give you even this poor version Of the speech I spoil, as it were, with stammering ---More fault of those who had the hammering Of prosody into me and syntax, And did it, not with hobnails but tintacks! But to return from this excursion,--Just, do you mark, when the song was sweetest, The peace most deep and the charm completest, There came, shall I say, a snap--And the charm vanished! And my sense returned, so strangely banished, And, starting as from a nap, I knew the crone was bewitching my lady, With Jacynth asleep; and but one spring made I Down from the casement, round to the portal, Another minute and I had entered,--When the door opened, and more than mortal Stood, with a face where to my mind centred All beauties I ever saw or shall see, The Duchess: I stopped as if struck by palsy. She was so different, happy and beautiful, I felt at once that all was best, And that I had nothing to do, for the rest, But wait her commands, obey and be dutiful. Not that, in fact, there was any commanding; I saw the glory of her eye, And the brow's height and the breast's expanding, And I was hers to live or to die. As for finding what she wanted, You know God Almighty granted Such little signs should serve wild creatures To tell one another all their desires, So that each knows what his friend requires, And does its bidding without teachers. I preceded her; the crone Followed silent and alone; I spoke to her, but she merely jabbered In the old style; both her eyes had slunk

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Back to their pits; her stature shrunk; In short, the soul in its body sunk Like a blade sent home to its scabbard. We descended, I preceding; Crossed the court with nobody heeding, All the world was at the chase, The courtyard like a desert-place, The stable emptied of its small fry; I saddled myself the very palfrey I remember patting while it carried her, The day she arrived and the Duke married her. And, do you know, though it's easy deceiving Oneself in such matters, I can't help believing The lady had not forgotten it either, And knew the poor devil so much beneath her Would have been only too glad for her service To dance on hot ploughshares like a Turk dervise, But, unable to pay proper duty where owing it, Was reduced to that pitiful method of showing it: For though the moment I began setting His saddle on my own nag of Berold's begetting, (Not that I meant to be obtrusive) She stopped me, while his rug was shifting, By a single rapid finger's lifting, And, with a gesture kind but conclusive, And a little shake of the head, refused me,--I say, although she never used me, Yet when she was mounted, the Gipsy behind her, And I ventured to remind her, I suppose with a voice of less steadiness Than usual, for my feeling exceeded me, ---Something to the effect that I was in readiness Whenever God should please she needed me,--Then, do you know, her face looked down on me With a look that placed a crown on me, And she felt in her bosom,---mark, her bosom--And, as a flower-tree drops its blossom, Dropped me . . . ah, had it been a purse Of silver, my friend, or gold that's worse, Why, you see, as soon as I found myself So understood,---that a true heart so may gain Such a reward,---I should have gone home again, Kissed Jacynth, and soberly drowned myself! It was a little plait of hair Such as friends in a convent make To wear, each for the other's sake,--This, see, which at my breast I wear, Ever did (rather to Jacynth's grudgment), And ever shall, till the Day of Judgment. And then,---and then,---to cut short,---this is idle, These are feelings it is not good to foster,--I pushed the gate wide, she shook the bridle,

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And the palfrey bounded,---and so we lost her. When the liquor's out why clink the cannikin? I did think to describe you the panic in The redoubtable breast of our master the mannikin, And what was the pitch of his mother's yellowness, How she turned as a shark to snap the spare-rib Clean off, sailors say, from a pearl-diving Carib, When she heard, what she called the flight of the feloness ---But it seems such child's play, What they said and did with the lady away! And to dance on, when we've lost the music, Always made me---and no doubt makes you---sick. Nay, to my mind, the world's face looked so stern As that sweet form disappeared through the postern, She that kept it in constant good humour, It ought to have stopped; there seemed nothing to do more. But the world thought otherwise and went on, And my head's one that its spite was spent on: Thirty years are fled since that morning, And with them all my head's adorning. Nor did the old Duchess die outright, As you expect, of suppressed spite, The natural end of every adder Not suffered to empty its poison-bladder: But she and her son agreed, I take it, That no one should touch on the story to wake it, For the wound in the Duke's pride rankled fiery, So, they made no search and small inquiry--And when fresh Gipsies have paid us a visit, I've Noticed the couple were never inquisitive, But told them they're folks the Duke don't want here, And bade them make haste and cross the frontier. Brief, the Duchess was gone and the Duke was glad of it, And the old one was in the young one's stead, And took, in her place, the household's head, And a blessed time the household had of it! And were I not, as a man may say, cautious How I trench, more than needs, on the nauseous, I could favour you with sundry touches Of the paint-smutches with which the Duchess Heightened the mellowness of her cheek's yellowness (To get on faster) until at last her Cheek grew to be one master-plaster Of mucus and focus from mere use of ceruse: In short, she grew from scalp to udder Just the object to make you shudder. XVII. XVI.

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You're my friend--What a thing friendship is, world without end! How it gives the heart and soul a stir-up As if somebody broached you a glorious runlet, And poured out, all lovelily, sparklingly, sunlit, Our green Moldavia, the streaky syrup, Cotnar as old as the time of the Druids--Friendship may match with that monarch of fluids; Each supples a dry brain, fills you its ins-and-outs, Gives your life's hour-glass a shake when the thin sand doubts Whether to run on or stop short, and guarantees Age is not all made of stark sloth and arrant ease. I have seen my little lady once more, Jacynth, the Gipsy, Berold, and the rest of it, For to me spoke the Duke, as I told you before; I always wanted to make a clean breast of it: And now it is made---why, my heart's blood, that went trickle, Trickle, but anon, in such muddy driblets, Is pumped up brisk now, through the main ventricle, And genially floats me about the giblets. I'll tell you what I intend to do: I must see this fellow his sad life through--He is our Duke, after all, And I, as he says, but a serf and thrall. My father was born here, and I inherit His fame, a chain he bound his son with; Could I pay in a lump I should prefer it, But there's no mine to blow up and get done with: So, I must stay till the end of the chapter. For, as to our middle-age-manners-adapter, Be it a thing to be glad on or sorry on, Some day or other, his head in a morion And breast in a hauberk, his heels he'll kick up, Slain by an onslaught fierce of hiccup. And then, when red doth the sword of our Duke rust, And its leathern sheath lie o'ergrown with a blue crust, Then I shall scrape together my earnings; For, you see, in the churchyard Jacynth reposes, And our children all went the way of the roses: It's a long lane that knows no turnings. One needs but little tackle to travel in; So, just one stout cloak shall I indue: And for a stall, what beats the javelin With which his boars my father pinned you? And then, for a purpose you shall hear presently, Taking some Cotnar, a tight plump skinful, I shall go journeying, who but I, pleasantly! Sorrow is vain and despondency sinful. What's a man's age? He must hurry more, that's all; Cram in a day, what his youth took a year to hold. When we mind labour, then only, we're too old--What age had Methusalem when he begat Saul?

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And at last, as its haven some buffeted ship sees, (Come all the way from the north-parts with sperm oil) I hope to get safely out of the turmoil And arrive one day at the land of the Gipsies, And find my lady, or hear the last news of her From some old thief and son of Lucifer, His forehead chapleted green with wreathy hop, Sunburned all over like an <AE>thiop. And when my Cotnar begins to operate And the tongue of the rogue to run at a proper rate, And our wine-skin, tight once, shows each flaccid dent, I shall drop in with---as if by accident--``You never knew, then, how it all ended, ``What fortune good or bad attended ``The little lady your Queen befriended?'' ---And when that's told me, what's remaining? This world's too hard for my explaining. The same wise judge of matters equine Who still preferred some slim four-year-old To the big-boned stock of mighty Berold, And, fur strong Cotnar, drank French weak wine, He also umst be such a lady's scorner! Smooth Jacob still rubs homely Esau: Now up, now down, the world's one see-saw. ---So, I shall find out some snug corner Under a hedge, like Orson the wood-knight, Turn myself round and bid the world good night; And sleep a sound sleep till the trumpet's blowing Wakes me (unless priests cheat us laymen) To a world where will be no furtiner throwing Pearls befare swine that Can't value them. Amen! Robert Browning

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Fra Lippo Lippi I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave! You need not clap your torches to my face. Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk! What, 'tis past midnight, and you go the rounds, And here you catch me at an alley's end Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar? The Carmine's my cloister: hunt it up, Do,--harry out, if you must show your zeal, Whatever rat, there, haps on his wrong hole, And nip each softling of a wee white mouse, Weke, weke, that's crept to keep him company! Aha, you know your betters! Then, you'll take Your hand away that's fiddling on my throat, And please to know me likewise. Who am I? Why, one, sir, who is lodging with a friend Three streets off--he's a certain . . . how d'ye call? Master--a ...Cosimo of the Medici, I' the house that caps the corner. Boh! you were best! Remember and tell me, the day you're hanged, How you affected such a gullet's-gripe! But you, sir, it concerns you that your knaves Pick up a manner nor discredit you: Zooks, are we pilchards, that they sweep the streets And count fair price what comes into their net? He's Judas to a tittle, that man is! Just such a face! Why, sir, you make amends. Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hang-dogs go Drink out this quarter-florin to the health Of the munificent House that harbours me (And many more beside, lads! more beside!) And all's come square again. I'd like his face-His, elbowing on his comrade in the door With the pike and lantern,--for the slave that holds John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair With one hand ("Look you, now," as who should say) And his weapon in the other, yet unwiped! It's not your chance to have a bit of chalk, A wood-coal or the like? or you should see! Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me so. What, brother Lippo's doings, up and down, You know them and they take you? like enough! I saw the proper twinkle in your eye-'Tell you, I liked your looks at very first. Let's sit and set things straight now, hip to haunch. Here's spring come, and the nights one makes up bands To roam the town and sing out carnival, And I've been three weeks shut within my mew, A-painting for the great man, saints and saints And saints again. I could not paint all night-Ouf! I leaned out of window for fresh air. There came a hurry of feet and little feet, A sweep of lute strings, laughs, and whifts of song, --

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Flower o' the broom, Take away love, and our earth is a tomb! Flower o' the quince, I let Lisa go, and what good in life since? Flower o' the thyme--and so on. Round they went. Scarce had they turned the corner when a titter Like the skipping of rabbits by moonlight,--three slim shapes, And a face that looked up . . . zooks, sir, flesh and blood, That's all I'm made of! Into shreds it went, Curtain and counterpane and coverlet, All the bed-furniture--a dozen knots, There was a ladder! Down I let myself, Hands and feet, scrambling somehow, and so dropped, And after them. I came up with the fun Hard by Saint Laurence, hail fellow, well met,-Flower o' the rose, If I've been merry, what matter who knows? And so as I was stealing back again To get to bed and have a bit of sleep Ere I rise up to-morrow and go work On Jerome knocking at his poor old breast With his great round stone to subdue the flesh, You snap me of the sudden. Ah, I see! Though your eye twinkles still, you shake your head-Mine's shaved--a monk, you say--the sting 's in that! If Master Cosimo announced himself, Mum's the word naturally; but a monk! Come, what am I a beast for? tell us, now! I was a baby when my mother died And father died and left me in the street. I starved there, God knows how, a year or two On fig-skins, melon-parings, rinds and shucks, Refuse and rubbish. One fine frosty day, My stomach being empty as your hat, The wind doubled me up and down I went. Old Aunt Lapaccia trussed me with one hand, (Its fellow was a stinger as I knew) And so along the wall, over the bridge, By the straight cut to the convent. Six words there, While I stood munching my first bread that month: "So, boy, you're minded," quoth the good fat father Wiping his own mouth, 'twas refection-time,-"To quit this very miserable world? Will you renounce" . . . "the mouthful of bread?" thought I; By no means! Brief, they made a monk of me; I did renounce the world, its pride and greed, Palace, farm, villa, shop, and banking-house, Trash, such as these poor devils of Medici Have given their hearts to--all at eight years old. Well, sir, I found in time, you may be sure, 'T#was not for nothing--the good bellyful, The warm serge and the rope that goes all round,

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And day-long blessed idleness beside! "Let's see what the urchin's fit for"--that came next. Not overmuch their way, I must confess. Such a to-do! They tried me with their books: Lord, they'd have taught me Latin in pure waste! Flower o' the clove. All the Latin I construe is, "amo" I love! But, mind you, when a boy starves in the streets Eight years together, as my fortune was, Watching folk's faces to know who will fling The bit of half-stripped grape-bunch he desires, And who will curse or kick him for his pains,-Which gentleman processional and fine, Holding a candle to the Sacrament, Will wink and let him lift a plate and catch The droppings of the wax to sell again, Or holla for the Eight and have him whipped,-How say I?--nay, which dog bites, which lets drop His bone from the heap of offal in the street,-Why, soul and sense of him grow sharp alike, He learns the look of things, and none the less For admonition from the hunger-pinch. I had a store of such remarks, be sure, Which, after I found leisure, turned to use. I drew men's faces on my copy-books, Scrawled them within the antiphonary's marge, Joined legs and arms to the long music-notes, Found eyes and nose and chin for A's and B's, And made a string of pictures of the world Betwixt the ins and outs of verb and noun, On the wall, the bench, the door. The monks looked black. "Nay," quoth the Prior, "turn him out, d'ye say? In no wise. Lose a crow and catch a lark. What if at last we get our man of parts, We Carmelites, like those Camaldolese And Preaching Friars, to do our church up fine And put the front on it that ought to be!" And hereupon he bade me daub away. Thank you! my head being crammed, the walls a blank, Never was such prompt disemburdening. First, every sort of monk, the black and white, I drew them, fat and lean: then, folk at church, From good old gossips waiting to confess Their cribs of barrel-droppings, candle-ends,-To the breathless fellow at the altar-foot, Fresh from his murder, safe and sitting there With the little children round him in a row Of admiration, half for his beard and half For that white anger of his victim's son Shaking a fist at him with one fierce arm, Signing himself with the other because of Christ (Whose sad face on the cross sees only this

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After the passion of a thousand years) Till some poor girl, her apron o'er her head, (Which the intense eyes looked through) came at eve On tiptoe, said a word, dropped in a loaf, Her pair of earrings and a bunch of flowers (The brute took growling), prayed, and so was gone. I painted all, then cried " `T#is ask and have; Choose, for more's ready!"--laid the ladder flat, And showed my covered bit of cloister-wall. The monks closed in a circle and praised loud Till checked, taught what to see and not to see, Being simple bodies,--"That's the very man! Look at the boy who stoops to pat the dog! That woman's like the Prior's niece who comes To care about his asthma: it's the life!'' But there my triumph's straw-fire flared and funked; Their betters took their turn to see and say: The Prior and the learned pulled a face And stopped all that in no time. "How? what's here? Quite from the mark of painting, bless us all! Faces, arms, legs, and bodies like the true As much as pea and pea! it's devil's-game! Your business is not to catch men with show, With homage to the perishable clay, But lift them over it, ignore it all, Make them forget there's such a thing as flesh. Your business is to paint the souls of men-Man's soul, and it's a fire, smoke . . . no, it's not . . . It's vapour done up like a new-born babe-(In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth) It's . . . well, what matters talking, it's the soul! Give us no more of body than shows soul! Here's Giotto, with his Saint a-praising God, That sets us praising--why not stop with him? Why put all thoughts of praise out of our head With wonder at lines, colours, and what not? Paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms! Rub all out, try at it a second time. Oh, that white smallish female with the breasts, She's just my niece . . . Herodias, I would say,-Who went and danced and got men's heads cut off! Have it all out!" Now, is this sense, I ask? A fine way to paint soul, by painting body So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go further And can't fare worse! Thus, yellow does for white When what you put for yellow's simply black, And any sort of meaning looks intense When all beside itself means and looks nought. Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn, Left foot and right foot, go a double step, Make his flesh liker and his soul more like, Both in their order? Take the prettiest face,

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The Prior's niece . . . patron-saint--is it so pretty You can't discover if it means hope, fear, Sorrow or joy? won't beauty go with these? Suppose I've made her eyes all right and blue, Can't I take breath and try to add life's flash, And then add soul and heighten them three-fold? Or say there's beauty with no soul at all-(I never saw it--put the case the same--) If you get simple beauty and nought else, You get about the best thing God invents: That's somewhat: and you'll find the soul you have missed, Within yourself, when you return him thanks. "Rub all out!" Well, well, there's my life, in short, And so the thing has gone on ever since. I'm grown a man no doubt, I've broken bounds: You should not take a fellow eight years old And make him swear to never kiss the girls. I'm my own master, paint now as I please-Having a friend, you see, in the Corner-house! Lord, it's fast holding by the rings in front-Those great rings serve more purposes than just To plant a flag in, or tie up a horse! And yet the old schooling sticks, the old grave eyes Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work, The heads shake still--"It's art's decline, my son! You're not of the true painters, great and old; Brother Angelico's the man, you'll find; Brother Lorenzo stands his single peer: Fag on at flesh, you'll never make the third!" Flower o' the pine, You keep your mistr ... manners, and I'll stick to mine! I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must know! Don't you think they're the likeliest to know, They with their Latin? So, I swallow my rage, Clench my teeth, suck my lips in tight, and paint To please them--sometimes do and sometimes don't; For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come A turn, some warm eve finds me at my saints-A laugh, a cry, the business of the world-(Flower o' the peach Death for us all, and his own life for each!) And my whole soul revolves, the cup runs over, The world and life's too big to pass for a dream, And I do these wild things in sheer despite, And play the fooleries you catch me at, In pure rage! The old mill-horse, out at grass After hard years, throws up his stiff heels so, Although the miller does not preach to him The only good of grass is to make chaff. What would men have? Do they like grass or no-May they or mayn't they? all I want's the thing Settled for ever one way. As it is,

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You tell too many lies and hurt yourself: You don't like what you only like too much, You do like what, if given you at your word, You find abundantly detestable. For me, I think I speak as I was taught; I always see the garden and God there A-making man's wife: and, my lesson learned, The value and significance of flesh, I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards. You understand me: I'm a beast, I know. But see, now--why, I see as certainly As that the morning-star's about to shine, What will hap some day. We've a youngster here Comes to our convent, studies what I do, Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop: His name is Guidi--he'll not mind the monks-They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk-He picks my practice up--he'll paint apace. I hope so--though I never live so long, I know what's sure to follow. You be judge! You speak no Latin more than I, belike; However, you're my man, you've seen the world --The beauty and the wonder and the power, The shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades, Changes, surprises,--and God made it all! --For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no, For this fair town's face, yonder river's line, The mountain round it and the sky above, Much more the figures of man, woman, child, These are the frame to? What's it all about? To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon, Wondered at? oh, this last of course!--you say. But why not do as well as say,--paint these Just as they are, careless what comes of it? God's works--paint any one, and count it crime To let a truth slip. Don't object, "His works Are here already; nature is complete: Suppose you reproduce her--(which you can't) There's no advantage! you must beat her, then." For, don't you mark? we're made so that we love First when we see them painted, things we have passed Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see; And so they are better, painted--better to us, Which is the same thing. Art was given for that; God uses us to help each other so, Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now, Your cullion's hanging face? A bit of chalk, And trust me but you should, though! How much more, If I drew higher things with the same truth! That were to take the Prior's pulpit-place, Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh, It makes me mad to see what men shall do

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And we in our graves! This world's no blot for us, Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good: To find its meaning is my meat and drink. "Ay, but you don't so instigate to prayer!" Strikes in the Prior: "when your meaning's plain It does not say to folk--remember matins, Or, mind you fast next Friday!" Why, for this What need of art at all? A skull and bones, Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what's best, A bell to chime the hour with, does as well. I painted a Saint Laurence six months since At Prato, splashed the fresco in fine style: "How looks my painting, now the scaffold's down?" I ask a brother: "Hugely," he returns-"Already not one phiz of your three slaves Who turn the Deacon off his toasted side, But's scratched and prodded to our heart's content, The pious people have so eased their own With coming to say prayers there in a rage: We get on fast to see the bricks beneath. Expect another job this time next year, For pity and religion grow i' the crowd-Your painting serves its purpose!" Hang the fools! --That is--you'll not mistake an idle word Spoke in a huff by a poor monk, God wot, Tasting the air this spicy night which turns The unaccustomed head like Chianti wine! Oh, the church knows! don't misreport me, now! It's natural a poor monk out of bounds Should have his apt word to excuse himself: And hearken how I plot to make amends. I have bethought me: I shall paint a piece ... There's for you! Give me six months, then go, see Something in Sant' Ambrogio's! Bless the nuns! They want a cast o' my office. I shall paint God in the midst, Madonna and her babe, Ringed by a bowery, flowery angel-brood, Lilies and vestments and white faces, sweet As puff on puff of grated orris-root When ladies crowd to Church at midsummer. And then i' the front, of course a saint or two-Saint John' because he saves the Florentines, Saint Ambrose, who puts down in black and white The convent's friends and gives them a long day, And Job, I must have him there past mistake, The man of Uz (and Us without the z, Painters who need his patience). Well, all these Secured at their devotion, up shall come Out of a corner when you least expect, As one by a dark stair into a great light, Music and talking, who but Lippo! I!-Mazed, motionless, and moonstruck--I'm the man!

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Robert Browning

Back I shrink--what is this I see and hear? I, caught up with my monk's-things by mistake, My old serge gown and rope that goes all round, I, in this presence, this pure company! Where's a hole, where's a corner for escape? Then steps a sweet angelic slip of a thing Forward, puts out a soft palm--"Not so fast!" --Addresses the celestial presence, "nay-He made you and devised you, after all, Though he's none of you! Could Saint John there draw-His camel-hair make up a painting brush? We come to brother Lippo for all that, Iste perfecit opus! So, all smile-I shuffle sideways with my blushing face Under the cover of a hundred wings Thrown like a spread of kirtles when you're gay And play hot cockles, all the doors being shut, Till, wholly unexpected, in there pops The hothead husband! Thus I scuttle off To some safe bench behind, not letting go The palm of her, the little lily thing That spoke the good word for me in the nick, Like the Prior's niece . . . Saint Lucy, I would say. And so all's saved for me, and for the church A pretty picture gained. Go, six months hence! Your hand, sir, and good-bye: no lights, no lights! The street's hushed, and I know my own way back, Don't fear me! There's the grey beginning. Zooks!

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From ‘Paracelsus’ I TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise From outward things, whate’er you may believe. There is an inmost centre in us all, Where truth abides in fullness; and around, Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, This perfect, clear perception—which is truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW, Rather consists in opening out a way Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape, Than in effecting entry for a light Supposed to be without. II I knew, I felt, (perception unexpressed, Uncomprehended by our narrow thought, But somehow felt and known in every shift And change in the spirit,—nay, in every pore Of the body, even,)—what God is, what we are What life is—how God tastes an infinite joy In infinite ways—one everlasting bliss, From whom all being emanates, all power Proceeds; in whom is life for evermore, Yet whom existence in its lowest form Includes; where dwells enjoyment there is he: With still a flying point of bliss remote, A happiness in store afar, a sphere Of distant glory in full view; thus climbs Pleasure its heights for ever and for ever. The centre-fire heaves underneath the earth, And the earth changes like a human face; The molten ore bursts up among the rocks, Winds into the stone’s heart, outbranches bright In hidden mines, spots barren river-beds, Crumbles into fine sand where sunbeams bask— God joys therein! The wroth sea’s waves are edged With foam, white as the bitten lip of hate, When, in the solitary waste, strange groups Of young volcanos come up, cyclops-like, Staring together with their eyes on flame— God tastes a pleasure in their uncouth pride. Then all is still; earth is a wintry clod: But spring-wind, like a dancing psaltress, passes Over its breast to waken it, rare verdure Buds tenderly upon rough banks, between The withered tree-roots and the cracks of frost, Like a smile striving with a wrinkled face; The grass grows bright, the boughs are swoln with blooms Like chrysalids impatient for the air,

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The shining dorrs are busy, beetles run Along the furrows, ants make their ade; Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark Soars up and up, shivering for very joy; Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek Their loves in wood and plain—and God renews His ancient rapture. Thus He dwells in all, From life’s minute beginnings, up at last To man—the consummation of this scheme Of being, the completion of this sphere Of life: whose attributes had here and there Been scattered o’er the visible world before, Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant To be united in some wondrous whole, Imperfect qualities throughout creation, Suggesting some one creature yet to make, Some point where all those scattered rays should meet Convergent in the faculties of man. Robert Browning

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From 'Pauline' O God, where does this tend—these struggling aims? What would I have? What is this ‘sleep’, which seems To bound all? can there be a ‘waking’ point Of crowning life? The soul would never rule— It would be first in all things—it would have Its utmost pleasure filled,—but that complete Commanding for commanding sickens it. The last point I can trace is, rest beneath Some better essence than itself—in weakness; This is ‘myself’—not what I think should be And what is that I hunger for but God? My God, my God! let me for once look on thee As tho’ nought else existed: we alone. And as creation crumbles, my soul’s spark Expands till I can say, ‘Even from myself I need thee, and I feel thee, and I love thee; I do not plead my rapture in thy works For love of thee—or that I feel as one Who cannot die—but there is that in me Which turns to thee, which loves, or which should love.’ Why have I girt myself with this hell-dress? Why have I laboured to put out my life? Is it not in my nature to adore, And e’en for all my reason do I not Feel him, and thank him, and pray to him—now? Can I forgo the trust that he loves me? Do I not feel a love which only ONE… O thou pale form, so dimly seen, deep-eyed, I have denied thee calmly—do I not Pant when I read of thy consummate deeds, And burn to see thy calm pure truths out-flash The brightest gleams of earth’s philosophy? Do I not shake to hear aught question thee? If I am erring save me, madden me, Take from me powers and pleasures—let me die. Ages, so I see thee: I am knit round As with a charm, by sin and lust and pride, Yet tho’ my wandering dreams have seen all shapes Of strange delight, oft have I stood by thee— Have I been keeping lonely watch with thee In the damp night by weeping Olivet, Or leaning on thy bosom, proudly less— Or dying with thee on the lonely cross— Or witnessing thy bursting from the tomb! Robert Browning

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Garden Francies I. THE FLOWER'S NAME Here's the garden she walked across, Arm in my arm, such a short while since: Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss Hinders the hinges and makes them wince! She must have reached this shrub ere she turned, As back with that murmur the wicket swung; For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned, To feed and forget it the leaves among. Down this side ofthe gravel-walk She went while her rope's edge brushed the box: And here she paused in her gracious talk To point me a moth on the milk-white phlox. Roses, ranged in valiant row, I will never think that she passed you by! She loves you noble roses, I know; But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie! This flower she stopped at, finger on lip, Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim; Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip, Its soft meandering Spanish name: What a name! Was it love or praise? Speech half-asleep or song half-awake? I must learn Spanish, one of these days, Only for that slow sweet name's sake. Roses, if I live and do well, I may bring her, one of these days, To fix you fast with as fine a spell, Fit you each with his Spanish phrase; But do not detain me now; for she lingers There, like sunshine over the ground, And ever I see her soft white fingers Searching after the bud she found. Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not, Stay as you are and be loved for ever! Bud, if I kiss you 'tis that you blow not: Mind, the shut pink mouth opens never! For while it pouts, her fingers wrestle, Twinkling the audacious leaves between, V. IV. III. II.

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Till round they turn and down they nestle--Is not the dear mark still to be seen? Where I find her not, beauties vanish; Whither I follow ber, beauties flee; Is there no method to tell her in Spanish June's twice June since she breathed it with me? Come, bud, show me the least of her traces, Treasure my lady's lightest footfall! ---Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces--Roses, you are not so fair after all! II. SIBRANDUS SCHAFNABURGENSIS. VI.

Plague take all your pedants, say I! He who wrote what I hold in my hand, Centuries back was so good as to die, Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land; This, that was a book in its time, Printed on paper and bound in leather, Last month in the white of a matin-prime Just when the birds sang all together. Into the garden I brought it to read, And under the arbute and laurustine Read it, so help me grace in my need, From title-page to closing line. Chapter on chapter did I count, As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge; Added up the mortal amount; And then proceeded to my revenge. Yonder's a plum-tree with a crevice An owl would build in, were he but sage; For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis In a castle of the Middle Age, Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber; When he'd be private, there might he spend Hours alone in his lady's chamber: Into this crevice I dropped our friend. Splash, went he, as under he ducked, ---At the bottom, I knew, rain-drippings stagnate: IV. III. II.

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Next, a handful of blossoms I plucked To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate; Then I went in-doors, brought out a loaf, Half a cheese, and a bottle of Chablis; Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais. Now, this morning, betwixt the moss And gum that locked our friend in limbo, A spider had spun his web across, And sat in the midst with arms akimbo: So, I took pity, for learning's sake, And, _de profundis, accentibus ltis, Cantate!_ quoth I, as I got a rake; And up I fished his delectable treatise. Here you have it, dry in the sun, With all the binding all of a blister, And great blue spots where the ink has run, And reddish streaks that wink and glister O'er the page so beautifully yellow: Oh, well have the droppings played their tricks! Did he guess how toadstools grow, this fellow? Here's one stuck in his chapter six! How did he like it when the live creatures Tickled and toused and browsed him all over, And worm, slug, eft, with serious features, Came in, each one, for his right of trover? ---When the water-beetle with great blind deaf face Made of her eggs the stately deposit, And the newt borrowed just so much of the preface As tiled in the top of his black wife's closet? All that life and fun and romping, All that frisking and twisting and coupling, While slowly our poor friend's leaves were swamping And clasps were cracking and covers suppling! As if you bad carried sour John Knox To the play-house at Paris, Vienna or Munich, Fastened him into a front-row box, And danced off the ballet with trousers and tunic.
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V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

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Come, old martyr! What, torment enough is it? Back to my room shall you take your sweet self. Good-bye, mother-beetle; husband-eft, _sufficit!_ See the snug niche I have made on my shelf! A.'s book shall prop you up, B.'s shall cover you, Here's C. to be grave with, or D. to be gay, And with E. on each side, and F. right over you, Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment-day! Robert Browning

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Glove, The (PETER RONSARD _loquitur_.) ``Heigho!'' yawned one day King Francis, ``Distance all value enhances! ``When a man's busy, why, leisure ``Strikes him as wonderful pleasure: `` 'Faith, and at leisure once is he? ``Straightway he wants to be busy. ``Here we've got peace; and aghast I'm ``Caught thinking war the true pastime. ``Is there a reason in metre? ``Give us your speech, master Peter!'' I who, if mortal dare say so, Ne'er am at loss with my Naso, ``Sire,'' I replied, ``joys prove cloudlets: ``Men are the merest Ixions''--Here the King whistled aloud, ``Let's ``---Heigho---go look at our lions!'' Such are the sorrowful chances If you talk fine to King Francis.

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And so, to the courtyard proceeding, Our company, Francis was leading, Increased by new followers tenfold Before be arrived at the penfold; Lords, ladies, like clouds which bedizen At sunset the western horizon. And Sir De Lorge pressed 'mid the foremost With the dame he professed to adore most. Oh, what a face! One by fits eyed Her, and the horrible pitside; For the penfold surrounded a hollow Which led where the eye scarce dared follow, And shelved to the chamber secluded Where Bluebeard, the great lion, brooded. The King bailed his keeper, an Arab As glossy and black as a scarab,*1 And bade him make sport and at once stir Up and out of his den the old monster. They opened a hole in the wire-work Across it, and dropped there a firework, And fled: one's heart's beating redoubled; A pause, while the pit's mouth was troubled, The blackness and silence so utter, By the firework's slow sparkling and sputter; Then earth in a sudden contortion Gave out to our gaze her abortion. Such a brute! Were I friend Clement Marot (Whose experience of nature's but narrow, And whose faculties move in no small mist When he versifies David the Psalmist) I should study that brute to describe you

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_Illim Juda Leonem de Tribu_. One's whole blood grew curdling and creepy To see the black mane, vast and heapy, The tail in the air stiff and straining, The wide eyes, nor waxing nor waning, As over the barrier which bounded His platform, and us who surrounded The barrier, they reached and they rested On space that might stand him in best stead: For who knew, he thought, what the amazement, The eruption of clatter and blaze meant, And if, in this minute of wonder, No outlet, 'mid lightning and thunder, Lay broad, and, his shackles all shivered, The lion at last was delivered? Ay, that was the open sky o'erhead! And you saw by the flash on his forehead, By the hope in those eyes wide and steady, He was leagues in the desert already, Driving the flocks up the mountain, Or catlike couched hard by the fountain To waylay the date-gathering negress: So guarded he entrance or egress. ``How he stands!'' quoth the King: ``we may well swear, (``No novice, we've won our spurs elsewhere ``And so can afford the confession,) ``We exercise wholesome discretion ``In keeping aloof from his threshold; ``Once hold you, those jaws want no fresh hold, ``Their first would too pleasantly purloin ``The visitor's brisket or surloin: ``But who's he would prove so fool-hardy? ``Not the best man of Marignan, pardie!'' The sentence no sooner was uttered, Than over the rails a glove flattered, Fell close to the lion, and rested: The dame 'twas, who flung it and jested With life so, De Lorge had been wooing For months past; he sat there pursuing His suit, weighing out with nonchalance Fine speeches like gold from a balance.

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Sound the trumpet, no true knight's a tarrier! De Lorge made one leap at the barrier, Walked straight to the glove,---while the lion Neer moved, kept his far-reaching eye on The palm-tree-edged desert-spring's sapphire, And the musky oiled skin of the Kaffir,--Picked it up, and as calmly retreated, Leaped back where the lady was seated, And full in the face of its owner

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Flung the glove.

``Your heart's queen, you dethrone her? ``So should I!''---cried the King---``'twas mere vanity, ``Not love, set that task to humanity!'' Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing. Not so, I; for I caught an expression In her brow's undisturbed self-possession Amid the Court's scoffing and merriment,--As if from no pleasing experiment She rose, yet of pain not much heedful So long as the process was needful,--As if she had tried in a crucible, To what ``speeches like gold'' were reducible, And, finding the finest prove copper, Felt the smoke in her face was but proper; To know what she had _not_ to trust to, Was worth all the ashes and dust too. She went out 'mid hooting and laughter; Clement Marot stayed; I followed after, And asked, as a grace, what it all meant? If she wished not the rash deed's recalment? ``For I''---so I spoke---``am a poet: ``Human nature,---behoves that I know it!''

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She told me, ``Too long had I heard ``Of the deed proved alone by the word: ``For my love---what De Lorge would not dare! ``With my scorn---what De Lorge could compare! ``And the endless descriptions of death ``He would brave when my lip formed a breath, ``I must reckon as braved, or, of course, ``Doubt his word---and moreover, perforce, ``For such gifts as no lady could spurn, ``Must offer my love in return. ``When I looked on your lion, it brought ``All the dangers at once to my thought, ``Encountered by all sorts of men, ``Before he was lodged in his den,--``From the poor slave whose club or bare hands ``Dug the trap, set the snare on the sands, ``With no King and no Court to applaud, ``By no shame, should he shrink, overawed, ``Yet to capture the creature made shift, ``That his rude boys might laugh at the gift, ``---To the page who last leaped o'er the fence ``Of the pit, on no greater pretence ``Than to get back the bonnet he dropped, ``Lest his pay for a week should be stopped. ``So, wiser I judged it to make

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``One trial what `death for my sake' ``Really meant, while the power was yet mine, ``Than to wait until time should define ``Such a phrase not so simply as I, ``Who took it to mean just `to die.' ``The blow a glove gives is but weak: ``Does the mark yet discolour my cheek? ``But when the heart suffers a blow, ``Will the pain pass so soon, do you know?''

I looked, as away she was sweeping, And saw a youth eagerly keeping As close as he dared to the doorway. No doubt that a noble should more weigh His life than befits a plebeian; And yet, had our brute been Nemean--(I judge by a certain calm fervour The youth stepped with, forward to serve her) ---He'd have scarce thought you did him the worst turn If you whispered ``Friend, what you'd get, first earn!'' And when, shortly after, she carried Her shame from the Court, and they married, To that marriage some happiness, maugre The voice of the Court, I dared augur. For De Lorge, he made women with men vie, Those in wonder and praise, these in envy; And in short stood so plain a head taller That he wooed and won ... how do you call her? The beauty, that rose in the sequel To the King's love, who loved her a week well. And 'twas noticed he never would honour De Lorge (who looked daggers upon her) With the easy commission of stretching His legs in the service, and fetching His wife, from her chamber, those straying Sad gloves she was always mislaying, While the King took the closet to chat in,--But of course this adventure came pat in. And never the King told the story, How bringing a glove brought such glory, But the wife smiled---``His nerves are grown firmer: ``Mine he brings now and utters no murmur.'' _Venienti occurrite morbo!_ With which moral I drop my theorbo. *1 A beetle. Robert Browning
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Guardian-Angel, The A PICTURE AT FANO. Dear and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave That child, when thou hast done with him, for me! Let me sit all the day here, that when eve Shall find performed thy special ministry, And time come for departure, thou, suspending Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending, Another still, to quiet and retrieve. Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more, From where thou standest now, to where I gaze, ---And suddenly my head is covered o'er With those wings, white above the child who prays Now on that tomb---and I shall feel thee guarding Me, out of all the world; for me, discarding Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door. I would not look up thither past thy head Because the door opes, like that child, I know, For I should have thy gracious face instead, Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together, And lift them up to pray, and gently tether Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment's spread? If this was ever granted, I would rest My bead beneath thine, while thy healing hands Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast, Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands, Back to its proper size again, and smoothing Distortion down till every nerve had soothing, And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed. How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired! I think how I should view the earth and skies And sea, when once again my brow was bared After thy healing, with such different eyes. O world, as God has made it! All is beauty: And knowing this, is love, and love is duty. What further may be sought for or declared?
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I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

Guercino drew this angel I saw teach (Alfred, dear friend!)---that little child to pray, Holding the little hands up, each to each Pressed gently,---with his own head turned away Over the earth where so much lay before him Of work to do, though heaven was opening o'er him, And he was left at Fano by the beach. We were at Fano, and three times we went To sit and see him in his chapel there, And drink his beauty to our soul's content ---My angel with me too: and since I care For dear Guercino's fame (to which in power And glory comes this picture for a dower, Fraught with a pathos so magnificent)--And since he did not work thus earnestly At all times, and has else endured some wrong--I took one thought his picture struck from me, And spread it out, translating it to song. My love is here. Where are you, dear old friend? How rolls the Wairoa at your world's far end? This is Ancona, yonder is the sea. Robert Browning VIII. VII.

VI.

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Heap Cassia, Sandal-Buds and Stripes Heap Cassia, sandal-buds and stripes Of labdanum, and aloe-balls, Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes From out her hair: such balsam falls Down sea-side mountain pedestals, From tree-tops where tired winds are fain, Spent with the vast and howling main, To treasure half their island-gain. And strew faint sweetness from some old Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud Which breaks to dust when once unrolled; Or shredded perfume, like a cloud From closet long to quiet vowed, With mothed and dropping arras hung, Mouldering her lute and books among, As when a queen, long dead, was young. Robert Browning

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Heretic's Tragedy, The A MIDDLE-AGE INTERLUDE. ROSA MUNDI; SEU, FULCITE ME FLORIBUS. A CONCEIT OF MASTER GYSBRECHT, CANON-REGULAR OF SAID JODOCUS-BY-THE-BAR, YPRES CITY. CANTUQUE, _Virgilius._ AND HATH OFTEN BEEN SUNG AT HOCK-TIDE AND FESTIVALES. GAVISUS ERAM, _Jessides._ (It would seem to be a glimpse from the burning of Jacques du Bourg-Mulay, at Paris, A. D. 1314; as distorted by the refraction from Flemish brain to brain, during the course of a couple of centuries.) [Molay was Grand Master of the Templars when that order was suppressed in 1312.] I.

The Lord, we look to once for all, Is the Lord we should look at, all at once: He knows not to vary, saith Saint Paul, Nor the shadow of turning, for the nonce. See him no other than as he is! Give both the infinitudes their due--Infinite mercy, but, I wis, As infinite a justice too. [_Organ: plagal-cadence._ As infinite a justice too. II. ONE SINGETH.

PREADMONISHETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.

John, Master of the Temple of God, Falling to sin the Unknown Sin, What he bought of Emperor Aldabrod, He sold it to Sultan Saladin: Till, caught by Pope Clement, a-buzzing there, Hornet-prince of the mad wasps' hive, And clipt of his wings in Paris square, They bring him now to be burned alive. [_And wanteth there grace of lute or clavicithern, ye shall say to confirm him who singeth---_ We bring John now to be burned alive.
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III.

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In the midst is a goodly gallows built; 'Twixt fork and fork, a stake is stuck; But first they set divers tumbrils a-tilt, Make a trench all round with the city muck; Inside they pile log upon log, good store; Faggots no few, blocks great and small, Reach a man's mid-thigh, no less, no more,--For they mean he should roast in the sight of all. We mean he should roast in the sight of all. IV. CHORUS.

Good sappy bavins<*1> that kindle forthwith; Billets that blaze substantial and slow; Pine-stump split deftly, dry as pith; Larch-heart that chars to a chalk-white glow: Then up they hoist me John in a chafe, Sling him fast like a hog to scorch, Spit in his face, then leap back safe, Sing ``Laudes'' and bid clap-to the torch. _Laus Deo_---who bids clap-to the torch. V. CHORUS.

John of the Temple, whose fame so bragged, Is burning alive in Paris square! How can he curse, if his mouth is gagged? Or wriggle his neck, with a collar there? Or heave his chest, which a band goes round? Or threat with his fist, since his arms are spliced? Or kick with his feet, now his legs are bound? ---Thinks John, I will call upon Jesus Christ. [_Here one crosseth himself_ VI.

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Jesus Christ---John had bought and sold, Jesus Christ---John had eaten and drunk; To him, the Flesh meant silver and gold. (_Salv<a^> reverenti<a^>._) Now it was, ``Saviour, bountiful lamb, ``I have roasted thee Turks, though men roast me!

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``See thy servant, the plight wherein I am! ``Art thou a saviour? Save thou me!'' 'Tis John the mocker cries, ``Save thou me!'' VII. CHORUS.

Who maketh God's menace an idle word? ---Saith, it no more means what it proclaims, Than a damsel's threat to her wanton bird?--For she too prattles of ugly names. ---Saith, he knoweth but one thing,---what he knows? That God is good and the rest is breath; Why else is the same styled Sharon's rose? Once a rose, ever a rose, he saith. O, John shall yet find a rose, he saith! VIII. CHORUS.

Alack, there be roses and roses, John! Some, honied of taste like your leman's tongue: Some, bitter; for why? (roast gaily on!) Their tree struck root in devil's-dung. When Paul once reasoned of righteousness And of temperance and of judgment to come, Good Felix trembled, he could no less: John, snickering, crook'd his wicked thumb. What cometh to John of the wicked thumb? IX. CHORUS.

Ha ha, John plucketh now at his rose To rid himself of a sorrow at heart! Lo,---petal on petal, fierce rays unclose; Anther on anther, sharp spikes outstart; And with blood for dew, the bosom boils; And a gust of sulphur is all its smell; And lo, he is horribly in the toils Of a coal-black giant flower of hell!
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CHORUS.

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What maketh heaven, That maketh hell. X.

So, as John called now, through the fire amain. On the Name, he had cursed with, all his life--To the Person, he bought and sold again--For the Face, with his daily buffets rife--Feature by feature It took its place: And his voice, like a mad dog's choking bark, At the steady whole of the Judge's face--Died. Forth John's soul flared into the dark. God help all poor souls lost in the dark! *1: Fagots. SUBJOINETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.

Robert Browning

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Holy-Cross Day ON WHICH THE JEWS WERE FORCED TO ATTEND AN ANNUAL CHRISTIAN SERMON IN ROME.

[``Now was come about Holy-Cross Day, and now must my lord preach his first sermon to the Jews: as it was of old cared for in tine merciful bowels of the Church, that, so to speak, a crumb at least from her conspicuous table here in Rome should be, though but once yearly, cast to the famishing dogs, under-trampled and bespitten-upon beneath the feet of the guests. And a moving sight in truth, this, of so many of the besotted blind restif and ready-to-perish Hebrews! now maternally brought---nay (for He saith, `Compel them to come in') haled, as it were, by the head and hair, and against their obstinate hearts, to partake of the heavenly grace. What awakening, what striving with tears, what working of a yeasty conscience! Nor was my lord wanting to himself on so apt an occasion; witness the abundance of conversions which did incontinently reward him: though not to my lord be altogether the glory.''---_Diary by the Bishop's Secretary,_ 1600.] What the Jews really said, on thus being driven to church, was rather to this effect:--I.

Fee, faw, fum! bubble and squeak! Blessedest Thursday's the fat of the week. Rumble and tumble, sleek and rough, Stinking and savoury, simug and gruff, Take the church-road, for the bell's due chime Gives us the summons---'tis sermon-time! Bob, here's Barnabas! Job, that's you? Up stumps Solomon---bustling too? Shame, man! greedy beyond your years To handsel the bishop's shaving-shears? Fair play's a jewel! Leave friends in the lurch? Stand on a line ere you start for the church! Higgledy piggledy, packed we lie, Rats in a hamper, swine in a stye, III. II.

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Wasps in a bottle, frogs in a sieve, Worms in a carcase, fleas in a sleeve. Hist! square shoulders, settle your thumbs And buzz for the bishop---here he comes. Bow, wow, wow---a bone for the dog! I liken his Grace to an acorned hog. What, a boy at his side, with the bloom of a lass, To help and handle my lord's hour-glass! Didst ever behold so lithe a chine? His cheek hath laps like a fresh-singed swine. Aaron's asleep---shove hip to haunch, Or somebody deal him a dig in the paunch! Look at the purse with the tassel and knob, And the gown with the angel and thingumbob! What's he at, quotha? reading his text! Now you've his curtsey---and what comes next? See to our converts---you doomed black dozen--No stealing away---nor cog nor cozen! You five, that were thieves, deserve it fairly; You seven, that were beggars, will live less sparely; You took your turn and dipped in the hat, Got fortune---and fortune gets you; mind that! Give your first groan---compunction's at work; And soft! from a Jew you mount to a Turk. Lo, Micah,---the selfsame beard on chin He was four times already converted in! Here's a knife, clip quick---it's a sign of grace--Or he ruins us all with his hanging-face. Whom now is the bishop a-leering at? I know a point where his text falls pat. I'll tell him to-morrow, a word just now Went to my heart and made me vow I meddle no more with the worst of trades--Let somebody else pay his serenades. IX. VIII. VII. VI. V. IV.

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Groan all together now, whee-hee-hee! It's a-work, it's a-work, ah, woe is me! It began, when a herd of us, picked and placed, Were spurred through the Corso, stripped to the waist; Jew brutes, with sweat and blood well spent To usher in worthily Christian Lent. It grew, when the hangman entered our bounds, Yelled, pricked us out to his church like hounds: It got to a pitch, when the hand indeed Which gutted my purse would throttle my creed: And it overflows when, to even the odd, Men I helped to their sins help me to their God. But now, while the scapegoats leave our flock, And the rest sit silent and count the clock, Since forced to muse the appointed time On these precious facts and truths sublime,--Let us fitly ennploy it, under our breath, In saying Ben Ezra's Song of Death. For Rabbi Ben Ezra, the night he died, Called sons and sons' sons to his side, And spoke, ``This world has been harsh and strange; ``Something is wrong: there needeth a change. ``But what, or where? at the last or first? ``In one point only we sinned, at worst. ``The Lord will have mercy on Jacob yet, ``And again in his border see Israel set. ``When Judah beholds Jerusalem, ``The stranger-seed shall be joined to them: ``To Jacob's House shall the Gentiles cleave. ``So the Prophet saith and his sons believe. ``Ay, the children of the chosen race ``Shall carry and bring them to their place: ``In the land of the Lord shall lead the same, ``Bondsmen and handmaids. Who shall blame, ``When the slaves enslave, the oppressed ones o'er ``The oppressor triumph for evermore?
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X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

XIV.

``God spoke, and gave us the word to keep, ``Bade never fold the hands nor sleep ``'Mid a faithless world,---at watch and ward, ``Till Christ at the end relieve our guard. ``By His servant Moses the watch was set: ``Though near upon cock-crow, we keep it yet. ``Thou! if thou wast He, who at mid-watch came, ``By the starlight, naming a dubious name! ``And if, too heavy with sleep---too rash ``With fear---O Thou, if that martyr-gash ``Fell on Thee coming to take thine own, ``And we gave the Cross, when we owed the Throne--``Thou art the Judge. We are bruised thus. ``But, the Judgment over, join sides with us! ``Thine too is the cause! and not more thine ``Than ours, is the work of these dogs and swine, ``Whose life laughs through and spits at their creed! ``Who maintain Thee in word, and defy Thee in deed! ``We withstood Christ then? Be mindful how ``At least we withstand Barabbas now! ``Was our outrage sore? But the worst we spared, ``To have called these---Christians, had we dared! ``Let defiance to them pay mistrust of Thee, ``And Rome make amends for Calvary! ``By the torture, prolonged from age to age, ``By the infamy, Israel's heritage, ``By the Ghetto's plague, by the garb's disgrace, ``By the badge of shame, by the felon's place, ``By the branding-tool, the bloody whip, ``And the summons to Christian fellowship,--``We boast our proof that at least the Jew ``Would wrest Christ's name from the Devil's crew. ``Thy face took never so deep a shade ``But we fought them in it, God our aid! ``A trophy to bear, as we marchs, thy band, XX. XIX. XVIII. XVII. XVI.

XV.

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``South, East, and on to the Pleasant Land!''

Robert Browning

[_Pope Gregory XVI. abolished this bad business of the Sermon._---R. B.]

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Home Thoughts, From Abroad Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England&mdash;now!

And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops&mdash;at the bent spray's edge&mdash; That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children's dower &mdash;Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower! Robert Browning

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Home Thoughts, from the Sea Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away; Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay; Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay; In the dimmest North-east distance dawned Gibraltar grand and grey; "Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?" -say, Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray, While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa. Robert Browning

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Home-Thoughts, From Abroad I. Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England---now!! And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops---at the bent spray's edge--That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children's dower ---Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower! Robert Browning II.

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Home-Thoughts, From The Sea Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away; Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay; Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay; In the dimmest North-east distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray; ``Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?''---say, Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray, While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa. Robert Browning

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How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix I. I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; ``Good speed!'' cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; ``Speed!'' echoed the wall to us galloping through; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast. Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right, Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit. 'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear; At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see; At Dffeld,'twas morning as plain as could be; And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime, So, Joris broke silence with, ``Yet there is time!'' At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun, And against him the cattle stood black every one, To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past, And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last, With resolute shoulders, each hutting away The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray: And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track; And one eye's black intelligence,---ever that glance O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance! And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on. By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ``Stay spur! ``Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her, ``We'll remember at Aix''---for one heard the quick wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, VI. V. IV. III. II.

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As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank. So, we were left galloping, Joris and I, Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky; The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh, 'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff; Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white, And ``Gallop,'' gasped Joris, ``for Aix is in sight!'' ``How they'll greet us!''---and all in a moment his roan Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone; And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate, With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim, And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim. Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall, Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all, Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear, Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer; Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good, Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood. And all I remember is---friends flocking round As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground; And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine, As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine, Which (the burgesses voted by common consent) Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent. Robert Browning X. IX. VIII. VII.

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In A Gondola He sings_. I send my heart up to thee, all my heart In this my singing. For the stars help me, and the sea bears part; The very night is clinging Closer to Venice' streets to leave one space Above me, whence thy face May light my joyous heart to thee its dwelling-place. Say after me, and try to say My very words, as if each word Came from you of your own accord, In your own voice, in your own way: ``This woman's heart and soul and brain ``Are mine as much as this gold chain ``She bids me wear; which'' (say again) ``I choose to make by cherishing ``A precious thing, or choose to fling ``Over the boat-side, ring by ring.'' And yet once more say ... no word more! Since words are only words. Give o'er! Unless you call me, all the same, Familiarly by my pet name, Which if the Three should hear you call, And me reply to, would proclaim At once our secret to them all. Ask of me, too, command me, blame--Do, break down the partition-wall 'Twixt us, the daylight world beholds Curtained in dusk and splendid folds! What's left but---all of me to take? I am the Three's: prevent them, slake Your thirst! 'Tis said, the Arab sage, In practising with gems, can loose Their subtle spirit in his cruce And leave but ashes: so, sweet mage, Leave them my ashes when thy use Sucks out my soul, thy heritage! I. _He sings_. _She speaks_.

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Past we glide, and past, and past! What's that poor Agnese doing Where they make the shutters fast? Grey Zanobi's just a-wooing To his couch the purchased bride:

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Past we glide! Past we glide, and past, and past! Why's the Pucci Palace flaring Like a beacon to the blast? Guests by hundreds, not one caring If the dear host's neck were wried: Past we glide! I. _She sings_. II.

The moth's kiss, first! Kiss me as if you made believe You were not sure, this eve, How my face, your flower, had pursed Its petals up; so, here and there You brush it, till I grow aware Who wants me, and wide ope I burst. The bee's kiss, now! Kiss me as if you entered gay My heart at some noonday, A bud that dares not disallow The claim, so all is rendered up, And passively its shattered cup Over your head to sleep I bow. I. _He sings_. II.

What are we two? I am a Jew, And carry thee, farther than friends can pursue, To a feast of our tribe; Where they need thee to bribe The devil that blasts them unless he imbibe Thy ... Scatter the vision for ever! And now, As of old, I am I, thou art thou! Say again, what we are? The sprite of a star, I lure thee above where the destinies bar My plumes their full play II.

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Till a ruddier ray Than my pale one announce there is withering away Some ... Scatter the vision for ever! And now, As of old, I am I, thou art thou! Oh, which were best, to roam or rest? The land's lap or the water's breast? To sleep on yellow millet-sheaves, Or swim in lucid shallows just Eluding water-lily leaves, An inch from Death's black fingers, thrust To lock you, whom release he must; Which life were best on Summer eves? Lie back; could thought of mine improve you? From this shoulder let there spring A wing; from this, another wing; Wings, not legs and feet, shall move you! Snow-white must they spring, to blend With your flesh, but I intend They shall deepen to the end, Broader, into burning gold, Till both wings crescent-wise enfold Your perfect self, from 'neath your feet To o'er your head, where, lo, they meet As if a million sword-blades hurled Defiance from you to the world! Rescue me thou, the only real! And scare away this mad ideal That came, nor motions to depart! Thanks! Now, stay ever as thou art! I. _Still he muses_. _He speaks, musing_. _He muses_.

What if the Three should catch at last Thy serenader? While there's cast Paul's cloak about my head, and fast Gian pinions me, himself has past His stylet thro' my back; I reel; And ... is it thou I feel? They trail me, these three godless knaves, Past every church that saints and saves, II.

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Nor stop till, where the cold sea raves By Lido's wet accursed graves, They scoop mine, roll me to its brink, And ... on thy breast I sink Dip your arm o'er the boat-side, elbow-deep, As I do: thus: were death so unlike sleep, Caught this way? Death's to fear from flame or steel, Or poison doubtless; but from water---feel! Go find the bottom! Would you stay me? There! Now pluck a great blade of that ribbon-grass To plait in where the foolish jewel was, I flung away: since you have praised my hair, 'Tis proper to be choice in what I wear. Row home? must we row home? Too surely Know I where its front's demurely Over the Giudecca piled; Window just with window mating, Door on door exactly waiting, All's the set face of a child: But behind it, where's a trace Of the staidness and reserve, And formal lines without a curve, In the same child's playing-face? No two windows look one way O'er the small sea-water thread Below them. Ah, the autumn day I, passing, saw you overhead! First, out a cloud of curtain blew, Then a sweet cry, and last came you--To catch your lory that must needs Escape just then, of all times then, To peck a tall plant's fleecy seeds, And make me happiest of men. I scarce could breathe to see you reach So far back o'er the balcony To catch him ere he climbed too high Above you in the Smyrna peach That quick the round smooth cord of gold, This coiled hair on your head, unrolled, Fell down you like a gorgeous snake The Roman girls were wont, of old, When Rome there was, for coolness' sake To let lie curling o'er their bosoms. Dear lory,*1 may his beak retain Ever its delicate rose stain _He speaks_. _She replies, musing_.

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As if the wounded lotus-blossoms Had marked their thief to know again!

Stay longer yet, for others' sake Than mine! What should your chamber do? ---With all its rarities that ache In silence while day lasts, but wake At night-time and their life renew, Suspended just to pleasure you Who brought against their will together These objects, and, while day lasts, weave Around them such a magic tether That dumb they look: your harp, believe, With all the sensitive tight strings Which dare not speak, now to itself Breathes slumberously, as if some elf Went in and out the chords, his wings Make murmur wheresoe'er they graze, As an angel may, between the maze Of midnight palace-pillars, on And on, to sow God's plagues, have gone Through guilty glorious Babylon. And while such murmurs flow, the nymph Bends o'er the harp-top from her shell As the dry limpet for the lymph Come with a tune be knows so well. And how your statues' hearts must swell! And how your pictures must descend To see each other, friend with friend! Oh, could you take them by surprise, You'd find Schidone's eager Duke Doing the quaintest courtesies To that prim saint by Haste-thee-Luke! And, deeper into her rock den, Bold Castelfranco's Magdalen You'd find retreated from the ken Of that robed counsel-keeping Ser--As if the Tizian thinks of her, And is not, rather, gravely bent On seeing for himself what toys Are these, his progeny invent, What litter now the board employs Whereon he signed a document That got him murdered! Each enjoys Its night so well, you cannot break The sport up, so, indeed must make More stay with me, for others' sake. _She speaks_. I.

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To-morrow, if a harp-string, say, Is used to tie the jasmine back That overfloods my room with sweets, Contrive your Zorzi somehow meets My Zanze! If the ribbon's black, The Three are watching: keep away! Your gondola---let Zorzi wreathe A mesh of water-weeds about its prow, as if he unaware Had struck some quay or bridge-foot stair! That I may throw a paper out As you and he go underneath. II.

There's Zanze's vigilant taper; safe are we. Only one minute more to-night with me? Resume your past self of a month ago! Be you the bashful gallant, I will be The lady with the colder breast than snow. Now bow you, as becomes, nor touch my hand More than I touch yours when I step to land, And say, ``All thanks, Siora!''--Heart to heart And lips to lips! Yet once more, ere we part, Clasp me and make me thine, as mine thou art! [_He is surprised, and stabbed_. It was ordained to be so, sweet!---and best Comes now, beneath thine eyes, upon thy breast. Still kiss me! Care not for the cowards! Care Only to put aside thy beauteous hair My blood will hurt! The Three, I do not scorn To death, because they never lived: but I Have lived indeed, and so---(yet one more kiss)---can die! Robert Browning

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In A Year Never any more, While I live, Need I hope to see his face As before. Once his love grown chill, Mine may strive: Bitterly we re-embrace, Single still. Was it something said, Something done, Vexed him? was it touch of hand, Turn of head? Strange! that very way Love begun: I as little understand Love's decay. When I sewed or drew, I recall How he looked as if I sung, ---Sweetly too. If I spoke a word, First of all Up his cheek the colour sprang, Then he heard. Sitting by my side, At my feet, So he breathed but air I breathed, Satisfied! I, too, at love's brim Touched the sweet: I would die if death bequeathed Sweet to him. ``Speak, I love thee best!'' He exclaimed: ``Let thy love my own foretell!'' I confessed: ``Clasp my heart on thine ``Now unblamed, ``Since upon thy soul as well ``Hangeth mine!'' V. IV. III. II.

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Was it wrong to own, Being truth? Why should all the giving prove His alone? I had wealth and ease, Beauty, youth: Since my lover gave me love, I gave these. That was all I meant, ---To be just, And the passion I had raised, To content. Since he chose to change Gold for dust, If I gave him what he praised Was it strange? Would he loved me yet, On and on, While I found some way undreamed ---Paid my debt! Gave more life and more, Till, all gone, He should smile ``She never seemed ``Mine before. ``What, she felt the while, ``Must I think? ``Love's so different with us men!'' He should smile: ``Dying for my sake--``White and pink! ``Can't we touch these bubbles then ``But they break?'' Dear, the pang is brief, Do thy part, Have thy pleasure! How perplexed Grows belief! Well, this cold clay clod X. IX. VIII. VII.

VI.

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Was man's heart: Crumble it, and what comes next? Is it God? Robert Browning

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In Three Days I. So, I shall see her in three days And just one night, but nights are short, Then two long hours, and that is morn. See how I come, unchanged, unworn! Feel, where my life broke off from thine, How fresh the splinters keep and fine,--Only a touch and we combine! Too long, this time of year, the days! But nights, at least the nights are short. As night shows where ger one moon is, A hand's-breadth of pure light and bliss, So life's night gives my lady birth And my eyes hold her! What is worth The rest of heaven, the rest of earth? O loaded curls, release your store Of warmth and scent, as once before The tingling hair did, lights and darks Outbreaking into fairy sparks, When under curl and curl I pried After the warmth and scent inside, Thro' lights and darks how manifold--The dark inspired, the light controlled As early Art embrowns the gold. What great fear, should one say, ``Three days ``That change the world might change as well ``Your fortune; and if joy delays, ``Be happy that no worse befell!'' What small fear, if another says, ``Three days and one short night beside ``May throw no shadow on your ways; ``But years must teem with change untried, ``With chance not easily defied, ``With an end somewhere undescried.'' No fear!---or if a fear be born This minute, it dies out in scorn. Fear? I shall see her in three days And one night, now the nights are short, Then just two hours, and that is morn. Robert Browning IV. III. II.

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Incident Of The French Camp I. You know, we French stormed Ratisbon: A mile or so away, On a little mound, Napoleon Stood on our storming-day; With neck out-thrust, you fancy how, Legs wide, arms locked behind, As if to balance the prone brow Oppressive with its mind. Just as perhaps he mused ``My plans ``That soar, to earth may fall, ``Let once my army-leader Lannes ``Waver at yonder wall,''--Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew A rider, bound on bound Full-galloping; nor bridle drew Until he reached the mound. Then off there flung in smiling joy, And held himself erect By just his horse's mane, a boy: You hardly could suspect--(So tight he kept his lips compressed, Scarce any blood came through) You looked twice ere you saw his breast Was all but shot in two. ``Well,'' cried he, ``Emperor, by God's grace ``We've got you Ratisbon! ``The Marshal's in the market-place, ``And you'll be there anon ``To see your flag-bird flap his vans ``Where I, to heart's desire, ``Perched him!'' The chief's eye flashed; his plans Soared up again like fire. The chief's eye flashed; but presently Softened itself, as sheathes A film the mother-eagle's eye When her bruised eaglet breathes; ``You're wounded!'' ``Nay,'' the soldier's pride Touched to the quick, he said: V. IV. III. II.

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``I'm killed, Sire!'' And his chief beside Smiling the boy fell dead. Robert Browning

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Instans Tyrannus I. Of the million or two, more or less, I rule and possess, One man, for some cause undefined, Was least to my mind. I struck him, he grovelled of course--For, what was his force? I pinned him to earth with my weight And persistence of hate: And he lay, would not moan, would not curse, As his lot might be worse. ``Were the object less mean, would he stand ``At the swing of my hand! ``For obscurity helps him and blots ``The hole where he squats.'' So, I set my five wits on the stretch To inveigle the wretch. All in vain! Gold and jewels I threw, Still he couched there perdue; I tempted his blood and his flesh, Hid in roses my mesh, Choicest cates and the flagon's best spilth: Still he kept to his filth. Had he kith now or kin, were access To his heart, did I press: Just a son or a mother to seize! No such booty as these. Were it simply a friend to pursue 'Mid my million or two, Who could pay me in person or pelf What he owes me himself! No: I could not but smile through my chafe: For the fellow lay safe As his mates do, the midge and the nit, ---Through minuteness, to wit. Then a humour more great took its place At the thought of his face, The droop, the low cares of the mouth, The trouble uncouth V. IV. III. II.

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'Twixt the brows, all that air one is fain To put out of its pain. And, ``no!'' I admonished myself, ``Is one mocked by an elf, ``Is one baffled by toad or by rat? ``The gravamen's in that! ``How the lion, who crouches to suit ``His back to my foot, ``Would admire that I stand in debate! ``But the small turns the great ``If it vexes you,---that is the thing! ``Toad or rat vex the king? ``Though I waste half my realm to unearth ``Toad or rat, 'tis well worth!'' So, I soberly laid my last plan To extinguish the man. Round his creep-hole, with never a break Ran my fires for his sake; Over-head, did my thunder combine With my underground mine: Till I looked from my labour content To enjoy the event. When sudden ... how think ye, the end? Did I say ``without friend''? Say rather, from marge to blue marge The whole sky grew his targe With the sun's self for visible boss, While an Arm ran across Which the earth heaved beneath like a breast Where the wretch was safe prest! Do you see? Just my vengeance complete, The man sprang to his feet, Stood erect, caught at God's skirts, and prayed! ---So, _I_ was afraid! Robert Browning VII. VI.

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Italian In England, The That second time they hunted me From hill to plain, from shore to sea, And Austria, hounding far and wide Her blood-hounds thro' the country-side, Breathed hot and instant on my trace,--I made six days a hiding-place Of that dry green old aqueduct Where I and Charles, when boys, have plucked The fire-flies from the roof above, Bright creeping thro' the moss they love: ---How long it seems since Charles was lost! Six days the soldiers crossed and crossed The country in my very sight; And when that peril ceased at night, The sky broke out in red dismay With signal fires; well, there I lay Close covered o'er in my recess, Up to the neck in ferns and cress, Thinking on Metternich our friend, And Charles's miserable end, And much beside, two days; the third, Hunger o'ercame me when I heard The peasants from the village go To work among the maize; you know, With us in Lombardy, they bring Provisions packed on mules, a string With little bells that cheer their task, And casks, and boughs on every cask To keep the sun's heat from the wine; These I let pass in jingling line, And, close on them, dear noisy crew, The peasants from the village, too; For at the very rear would troop Their wives and sisters in a group To help, I knew. When these had passed, I threw my glove to strike the last, Taking the chance: she did not start, Much less cry out, but stooped apart, One instant rapidly glanced round, And saw me beckon from the ground. A wild bush grows and hides my crypt; She picked my glove up while she stripped A branch off, then rejoined the rest With that; my glove lay in her breast. Then I drew breath; they disappeared: It was for Italy I feared. An hour, and she returned alone Exactly where my glove was thrown. Meanwhile came many thoughts: on me Rested the hopes of Italy. I had devised a certain tale

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Which, when 'twas told her, could not fail Persuade a peasant of its truth; I meant to call a freak of youth This hiding, and give hopes of pay, And no temptation to betray. But when I saw that woman's face, Its calm simplicity of grace, Our Italy's own attitude In which she walked thus far, and stood, Planting each naked foot so firm, To crush the snake and spare the worm--At first sight of her eyes, I said, ``I am that man upon whose head ``They fix the price, because I hate ``The Austrians over us: the State ``Will give you gold---oh, gold so much!--``If you betray me to their clutch, ``And be your death, for aught I know, ``If once they find you saved their foe. ``Now, you must bring me food and drink, ``And also paper, pen and ink, ``And carry safe what I shall write ``To Padua, which you'll reach at night ``Before the duomo shuts; go in, ``And wait till Tenebr<ae> begin; ``Walk to the third confessional, ``Between the pillar and the wall, ``And kneeling whisper, _Whence comes peace?_ ``Say it a second time, then cease; ``And if the voice inside returns, ``_From Christ and Freedom; what concerns ``The cause of Peace?_---for answer, slip ``My letter where you placed your lip; ``Then come back happy we have done ``Our mother service---I, the son, ``As you the daughter of our land!'' Three mornings more, she took her stand In the same place, with the same eyes: I was no surer of sun-rise That of her coming. We conferred Of her own prospects, and I heard She had a lover---stout and tall, She said---then let her eyelids fall, ``He could do much''---as if some doubt Entered her heart,---then, passing out, ``She could not speak for others, who ``Had other thoughts; herself she knew:'' And so she brought me drink and food. After four days, the scouts pursued Another path; at last arrived The help my Paduan friends contrived

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To furnish me: she brought the news. For the first time I could not choose But kiss her hand, and lay my own Upon her head---``This faith was shown ``To Italy, our mother; she ``Uses my hand and blesses thee.'' She followed down to the sea-shore; I left and never saw her more.

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How very long since I have thought Concerning---much less wished for---aught Beside the good of Italy, For which I live and mean to die! I never was in love; and since Charles proved false, what shall now convince. My inmost heart I have a friend? However, if I pleased to spend Real wishes on myself---say, three--I know at least what one should be. I would grasp Metternich until I felt his red wet throat distil In blood thro' these two hands. And next, ---Nor much for that am I perplexed--Charles, perjured traitor, for his part, Should die slow of a broken heart Under his new employer. Last ---Ah, there, what should I wish? For fast Do I grow old and out of strength. If I resolved to seek at length My father's house again, how scared They all would look, and unprepared! My brothers live in Austria's pay ---Disowned me long ago, men say; And all my early mates who used To praise me so---perhaps induced More than one early step of mine--Are turning wise: while some opine ``Freedom grows license,'' some suspect ``Haste breeds delay,'' and recollect They always said, such premature Beginnings never could endure! So, with a sullen ``All's for best,'' The land seems settling to its rest. I think then, I should wish to stand This evening in that dear, lost land, Over the sea the thousand miles, And know if yet that woman smiles With the calm smile; some little farm She lives in there, no doubt: what harm If I sat on the door-side bench, And, while her spindle made a trench Fantastically in the dust,

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Inquired of all her fortunes---just Her children's ages and their names, And what may be the husband's aims For each of them. I'd talk this out, And sit there, for an hour about, Then kiss her hand once more, and lay Mine on her head, and go my way. So much for idle wishing---how It steals the time! To business now. Robert Browning

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Laboratory, The ANCIEN R<E'>GIME. Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro' these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy--Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them!---I am here. Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder,---I am not in haste! Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things, Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's. That in the mortar---you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly,---is that poison too? Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures, What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures! To carry pure death in an earring, a casket, A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket! Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give, And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead! Quick---is it finished? The colour's too grim! Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim? Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!
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What a drop! She's not little, no minion like me! That's why she ensnared him: this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes,---Say, ``no!'' To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go. For only last night, as they whispered, I brought My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all! Not that I bid you spare her the pain; Let death be felt and the proof remain: Brand, burn up, bite into its grace--He is sure to remember her dying face! Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose; It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close; The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee! If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me? Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill, You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings Ere I know it---next moment I dance at the King's! Robert Browning XII. XI. X. IX.

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Last Ride Together, The I said---Then, dearest, since 'tis so, Since now at length my fate I know, Since nothing all my love avails, Since all, my life seemed meant for, fails, Since this was written and needs must be--My whole heart rises up to bless Your name in pride and thankfulness! Take back the hope you gave,---I claim ---Only a memory of the same, ---And this beside, if you will not blame, Your leave for one more last ride with me. My mistress bent that brow of hers; Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs When pity would be softening through, Fixed me, a breathing-while or two, With life or death in the balance: right! The blood replenished me again; My last thought was at least not vain: I and my mistress, side by side Shall be together, breathe and ride, So, one day more am I deified. Who knows but the world may end tonight? Hush! if you saw some western cloud All billowy-bosomed, over-bowed By many benedictions---sun's And moon's and evening-star's at once--And so, you, looking and loving best, Conscious grew, your passion drew Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too, Down on you, near and yet more near, Till flesh must fade for heaven was here!--Thus leant she and lingered---joy and fear! Thus lay she a moment on my breast. Then we began to ride. My soul Smoothed itself out, a long-cramped scroll Freshening and fluttering in the wind. Past hopes already lay behind. What need to strive with a life awry? Had I said that, had I done this, So might I gain, so might I miss. Might she have loved me? just as well IV. III. II. I.

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She might have hated, who can tell! Where had I been now if the worst befell? And here we are riding, she and I. Fail I alone, in words and deeds? Why, all men strive and who succeeds? We rode; it seemed my spirit flew, Saw other regions, cities new, As the world rushed by on either side. I thought,---All labour, yet no less Bear up beneath their unsuccess. Look at the end of work, contrast The petty done, the undone vast, This present of theirs with the hopeful past! I hoped she would love me; here we ride. What hand and brain went ever paired? What heart alike conceived and dared? What act proved all its thought had been? What will but felt the fleshly screen? We ride and I see her bosom heave. There's many a crown for who can reach, Ten lines, a statesman's life in each! The flag stuck on a heap of bones, A soldier's doing! what atones? They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones. My riding is better, by their leave. What does it all mean, poet? Well, Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell What we felt only; you expressed You hold things beautiful the best, And pace them in rhyme so, side by side. 'Tis something, nay 'tis much: but then, Have you yourself what's best for men? Are you---poor, sick, old ere your time--Nearer one whit your own sublime Than we who never have turned a rhyme? Sing, riding's a joy! For me, I ride. And you, great sculptor---so, you gave A score of years to Art, her slave, And that's your Venus, whence we turn To yonder girl that fords the burn! VIII. VII. VI. V.

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You acquiesce, and shall I repine? What, man of music, you grown grey With notes and nothing else to say, Is this your sole praise from a friend, ``Greatly his opera's strains intend, ``Put in music we know how fashions end!'' I gave my youth; but we ride, in fine. Who knows what's fit for us? Had fate Proposed bliss here should sublimate My being---had I signed the bond--Still one must lead some life beyond, Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried. This foot once planted on the goal, This glory-garland round my soul, Could I descry such? Try and test! I sink back shuddering from the quest. Earth being so good, would heaven seem best? Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride. And yet---she has not spoke so long! What if heaven be that, fair and strong At life's best, with our eyes upturned Whither life's flower is first discerned, We, fixed so, ever should so abide? What if we still ride on, we two With life for ever old yet new, Changed not in kind but in degree, The instant made eternity,--And heaven just prove that I and she Ride, ride together, for ever ride? Robert Browning X. IX.

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Life in a Bottle Escape me? Never-Beloved! While I am I, and you are you, So long as the world contains us both, Me the loving and you the loth, While the one eludes, must the other pursue. My life is a fault at last, I fear: It seems too much like a fate, indeed! Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed. But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, And, baffled, get up and begin again,-So the chace takes up one's life, that's all. While, look but once from your farthest bound At me so deep in the dust and dark, No sooner the old hope goes to ground Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark, I shape me-Ever Removed! Robert Browning

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Life In A Love Escape me? Never--Beloved! While I am I, and you are you, So long as the world contains us both, Me the loving and you the loth While the one eludes, must the other pursue. My life is a fault at last, I fear: It seems too much like a fate, indeed! Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed. But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, And, baffled, get up and begin again,--So the chace takes up one's life ' that's all. While, look but once from your farthest bound At me so deep in the dust and dark, No sooner the old hope goes to ground Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark, I shape me--Ever Removed! Robert Browning

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Lost Leader, The Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat--Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us, Lost all the others she lets us devote; They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver, So much was theirs who so little allowed: How all our copper had gone for his service! Rags---were they purple, his heart had been proud! We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him, Lived in his mild and magnificent eye, Learned his great language, caught his clear accents, Made him our pattern to live and to die! Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us, Burns, Shelley, were with us,---they watch from their graves! He alone breaks from the van and the free-men, ---He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves! We shall march prospering,---not thro' his presence; Songs may inspirit us,---not from his lyre; Deeds will be done,---while he boasts his quiescence, Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire: Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more, One task more declined, one more foot-path untrod, One more devils'-triumph and sorrow for angels, One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! Life's night begins: let him never come back to us! There would be doubt, hesitation and pain, Forced praise on our part---the glimmer of twilight, Never glad confident morning again! Best fight on well, for we taught him---strike gallantly, Menace our heart ere we master his own; Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us, Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne! Robert Browning II. I.

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Lost Mistress, The All's over, then: does truth sound bitter As one at first believes? Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter About your cottage eaves! And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly, I noticed that, to-day; One day more bursts them open fully ---You know the red turns grey. To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest? May I take your hand in mine? Mere friends are we,---well, friends the merest Keep much that I resign: For each glance of the eye so bright and black, Though I keep with heart's endeavour,--Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back, Though it stay in my soul for ever!--Yet I will but say what mere friends say, Or only a thought stronger; I will hold your hand but as long as all may, Or so very little longer! Robert Browning V. IV. III. II. I.

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Love Among The Ruins I. Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles, Miles and miles On the solitary pastures where our sheep Half-asleep Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop As they crop--Was the site once of a city great and gay, (So they say) Of our country's very capital, its prince Ages since Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far Peace or war. Now,---the country does not even boast a tree, As you see, To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills From the hills Intersect and give a name to, (else they run Into one) Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires Up like fires O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall Bounding all, Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed, Twelve abreast. And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass Never was! Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads And embeds Every vestige of the city, guessed alone, Stock or stone--Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe Long ago; Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame Struck them tame; And that glory and that shame alike, the gold Bought and sold. Now,---the single little turret that remains On the plains, By the caper overrooted, by the gourd Overscored, While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks IV. III. II.

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Through the chinks--Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time Sprang sublime, And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced As they raced, And the monarch and his minions and his dames Viewed the games. And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve Smiles to leave To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece In such peace, And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey Melt away--That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair Waits me there In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul For the goal, When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb Till I come. But he looked upon the city, every side, Far and wide, All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades' Colonnades, All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,---and then, All the men! When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand, Either hand On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace Of my face, Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech Each on each. In one year they sent a million fighters forth South and North, And they built their gods a brazen pillar high As the sky, Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--Gold, of course. Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns! Earth's returns For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin! Shut them in, With their triumphs and their glories and the rest! Love is best. VII. VI. V.

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Love In A Life I. Room after room, I hunt the house through We inhabit together. Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her--Next time, herself!---not the trouble behind her Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume! As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew: Yon looking-glass gleaned at the wave of her feather. Yet the day wears, And door succeeds door; I try the fresh fortune--Range the wide house from the wing to the centre. Still the same chance! She goes out as I enter. Spend my whole day in the quest,---who cares? But 'tis twilight, you see,---with such suites to explore, Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune! Robert Browning II.

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Man I Am and Man Would Be, Love Man I am and man would be, Love--merest man and nothing more. Bid me seem no other! Eagles boast of pinions--let them soar! I may put forth angel's plumage, once unmanned, but not before.

Now on earth to stand suffices,--nay, if kneeling serves, to kneel: Here you front me, here I find the all of heaven that earth can feel: Sense looks straight,--not over,under,--perfect sees beyond appeal.

Good you are and wise, full circle: what to me were more outside? Wiser wisdom, better goodness? Ah, such want the angel's wide Sense to take and hold and keep them! Mine at least has never tried. Robert Browning

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Master Hugues Of Saxe-Gotha An imaginary composer.] Hist, but a word, fair and soft! Forth and be judged, Master Hugues! Answer the question I've put you so oft: What do you mean by your mountainous fugues?<*1> See, we're alone in the loft,--I, the poor organist here, Hugues, the composer of note, Dead though, and done with, this many a year: Let's have a colloquy, something to quote, Make the world prick up its ear! See, the church empties apace: Fast they extinguish the lights. Hallo there, sacristan! Five minutes' grace! Here's a crank pedal wants setting to rights, Baulks one of holding the base. See, our huge house of the sounds, Hushing its hundreds at once, Bids the last loiterer back to his bounds! O you may challenge them, not a response Get the church-saints on their rounds! (Saints go their rounds, who shall doubt? ---March, with the moon to admire, Up nave, down chancel, turn transept about, Supervise all betwixt pavement and spire, Put rats and mice to the rout--Aloys and Jurien and Just--Order things back to their place, Have a sharp eye lest the candlesticks rust, Rub the church-plate, darn the sacrament-lace, Clear the desk-velvet of dust.) VII. VI. V. IV. III. II. I.

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Here's your book, younger folks shelve! Played I not off-hand and runningly, Just now, your masterpiece, hard number twelve? Here's what should strike, could one handle it cunningly: HeIp the axe, give it a helve! Page after page as I played, Every bar's rest, where one wipes Sweat from one's brow, I looked up and surveyed, O'er my three claviers<*2> yon forest of pipes Whence you still peeped in the shade. Sure you were wishful to speak? You, with brow ruled like a score, Yes, and eyes buried in pits on each cheek, Like two great breves,<*3> as they wrote them of yore, Each side that bar, your straight beak! Sure you said---``Good, the mere notes! ``Still, couldst thou take my intent, ``Know what procured me our Company's votes--``A master were lauded and sciolists shent, ``Parted the sheep from the goats!'' Well then, speak up, never flinch! Quick, ere my candle's a snuff ---Burnt, do you see? to its uttermost inch--_I_ believe in you, but that's not enough: Give my conviction a clinch! First you deliver your phrase ---Nothing propound, that I see, Fit in itself for much blame or much praise--Answered no less, where no answer needs be: Off start the Two on their ways. Straight must a Third interpose, Volunteer needlessly help; In strikes a Fourth, a Fifth thrusts in his nose, So the cry's open, the kennel's a-yelp, XIII. XII. XI. X. IX. VIII.

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Argument's hot to the close. One dissertates, he is candid; Two must discept,--has distinguished; Three helps the couple, if ever yet man did; Four protests; Five makes a dart at the thing wished: Back to One, goes the case bandied. One says his say with a difference More of expounding, explaining! All now is wrangle, abuse, and vociferance; Now there's a truce, all's subdued, self-restraining: Five, though, stands out all the stiffer hence. One is incisive, corrosive: Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant; Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive; Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant, Five ... O Danaides,<*4> O Sieve! Now, they ply axes and crowbars; Now, they prick pins at a tissue Fine as a skein of the casuist Escobar's<*5> Worked on the bone of a lie. To what issue? Where is our gain at the Two-bars? _Est fuga, volvitur rota._ On we drift: where looms the dim port? One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their quota; Something is gained, if one caught but the import--Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha! What with affirming, denying, Holding, risposting,<*6> subjoining, All's like ... it's like ... for an instance I'm trying ... There! See our roof, its gilt moulding and groining Under those spider-webs lying! XX. XIX. XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV. XIV.

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So your fugue broadens and thickens, Greatens and deepens and lengthens, Till we exclaim---``But where's music, the dickens? ``Blot ye the gold, while your spider-web strengthens ``---Blacked to the stoutest of tickens?''<*7> I for man's effort am zealous: Prove me such censure unfounded! Seems it surprising a lover grows jealous--Hopes 'twas for something, his organ-pipes sounded, Tiring three boys at the bellows? Is it your moral of Life? Such a web, simple and subtle, Weave we on earth here in impotent strife, Backward and forward each throwing his shuttle, Death ending all with a knife? Over our heads truth and nature--Still our life's zigzags and dodges, Ins and outs, weaving a new legislature--God's gold just shining its last where that lodges, Palled beneath man's usurpature. So we o'ershroud stars and roses, Cherub and trophy and garland; Nothings grow something which quietly closes Heaven's earnest eye: not a glimpse of the far land Gets through our comments and glozes. Ah but traditions, inventions, (Say we and make up a visage) So many men with such various intentions, Down the past ages, must know more than this age! Leave we the web its dimensions! Who thinks Hugues wrote for the deaf, Proved a mere mountain in labour? Better submit; try again; what's the clef? 'Faith, 'tis no trifle for pipe and for tabor--XXVI. XXV. XXIV. XXIII. XXII. XXI.

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Four flats, the minor in F. Friend, your fugue taxes the finger Learning it once, who would lose it? Yet all the while a misgiving will linger, Truth's golden o'er us although we refuse it--Nature, thro' cobwebs we string her. Hugues! I advise _Me Pn_ (Counterpoint glares like a Gorgon) Bid One, Two, Three, Four, Five, clear the arena! Say the word, straight I unstop the full-organ, Blare out the _mode Palestrina._<*8> While in the roof, if I'm right there, ... Lo you, the wick in the socket! Hallo, you sacristan, show us a light there! Down it dips, gone like a rocket. What, you want, do you, to come unawares, Sweeping the church up for first morning-prayers, And find a poor devil has ended his cares At the foot of your rotten-runged rat-riddled stairs? Do I carry the moon in my pocket? * * * * * * * * * 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 XXIX. XXVIII. XXVII.

Robert Browning

A fugue is a short melody. Keyboard of organ. A note in music. The daughters of Danaus, condemned to pour water into a sieve. The Spanish casuist, so severely mauled by Pascal. A quick return in fencing. A closely woven fabric. _Giovanni P. da Palestrina_, celebrated musician (1524-1594).

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Meeting At Night I. The grey sea and the long black land; And the yellow half-moon large and low; And the startled little waves that leap In fiery ringlets from their sleep, As I gain the cove with pushing prow, And quench its speed i' the slushy sand. Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach; Three fields to cross till a farm appears; A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch And blue spurt of a lighted match, And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears, Than the two hearts beating each to each! Robert Browning II.

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Memorabilia I. Ah, did you once see Shelley plain, And did he stop and speak to you And did you speak to him again? How strange it seems and new! But you were living before that, And also you are living after; And the memory I started at--My starting moves your laughter. I crossed a moor, with a name of its own And a certain use in the world no doubt, Yet a hand's-breadth of it shines alone 'Mid the blank miles round about: For there I picked up on the heather And there I put inside my breast A moulted feather, an eagle-feather! Well, I forget the rest. Robert Browning IV. III. II.

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Mesmerism I. All I believed is true! I am able yet All I want, to get By a method as strange as new: Dare I trust the same to you? If at night, when doors are shut, And the wood-worm picks, And the death-watch ticks, And the bar has a flag of smut, And a cat's in the water-butt--And the socket floats and flares, And the house-beams groan, And a foot unknown Is surmised on the garret-stairs, And the locks slip unawares--And the spider, to serve his ends, By a sudden thread, Arms and legs outspread, On the table's midst descends, Comes to find, God knows what friends!--If since eve drew in, I say, I have sat and brought (So to speak) my thought To bear on the woman away, Till I felt my hair turn grey--Till I seemed to have and hold, In the vacancy 'Twixt the wall and me, From the hair-plait's chestnut gold To the foot in its muslin fold--Have and hold, then and there, Her, from head to foot, VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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Breathing and mute, Passive and yet aware, In the grasp of my steady stare--Hold and have, there and then, All her body and soul That completes my whole, All that women add to men, In the clutch of my steady ken--Having and holding, till I imprint her fast On the void at last As the sun does whom he will By the calotypist's skill--Then,---if my heart's strength serve, And through all and each Of the veils I reach To her soul and never swerve, Knitting an iron nerve--Command her soul to advance And inform the shape Which has made escape And before my countenance Answers me glance for glance--I, still with a gesture fit Of my hands that best Do my soul's behest, Pointing the power from it, While myself do steadfast sit--Steadfast and still the same On my object bent, While the hands give vent To my ardour and my aim And break into very flame--www.PoemHunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive 247

VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

Then I reach, I must believe, Not her soul in vain, For to me again It reaches, and past retrieve Is wound in the toils I weave; And must follow as I require, As befits a thrall, Bringing flesh and all, Essence and earth-attire, To the source of the tractile fire: Till the house called hers, not mine, With a growing weight Seems to suffocate If she break not its leaden line And escape from its close confine. Out of doors into the night! On to the maze Of the wild wood-ways, Not turning to left nor right From the pathway, blind with sight--Making thro' rain and wind O'er the broken shrubs, 'Twixt the stems and stubs, With a still, composed, strong mind, Nor a care for the world behind--Swifter and still more swift, As the crowding peace Doth to joy increase In the wide blind eyes uplift Thro' the darkness and the drift! While I---to the shape, I too Feel my soul dilate XX. XIX. XVIII. XVII. XVI. XV.

XIV.

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Nor a whit abate, And relax not a gesture due, As I see my belief come true. For, there! have I drawn or no Life to that lip? Do my fingers dip In a flame which again they throw On the cheek that breaks a-glow? XXII. Ha! was the hair so first? What, unfilleted, Made alive, and spread Through the void with a rich outburst, Chestnut gold-interspersed? Like the doors of a casket-shrine, See, on either side, Her two arms divide Till the heart betwixt makes sign, Take me, for I am thine! ``Now---now''---the door is heard! Hark, the stairs! and near--Nearer---and here--``Now!'' and at call the third She enters without a word. On doth she march and on To the fancied shape; It is, past escape, Herself, now: the dream is done And the shadow and she are one. First I will pray. Do Thou That ownest the soul, Yet wilt grant control To another, nor disallow For a time, restrain me now!
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XXI.

XXTII.

XXIV.

XXV.

XXVI.

I admonish me while I may, Not to squander guilt, Since require Thou wilt At my hand its price one day What the price is, who can say? Robert Browning

XXVII.

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Misconceptions . This is a spray the Bird clung to, Making it blossom with pleasure, Ere the high tree-top she sprang to, Fit for her nest and her treasure. Oh, what a hope beyond measure Was the poor spray's, which the flying feet hung to,--So to be singled out, built in, and sung to! This is a heart the Queen leant on, Thrilled in a minute erratic, Ere the true bosom she bent on, Meet for love's regal dalmatic.<*1> Oh, what a fancy ecstatic Was the poor heart's, ere the wanderer went on--Love to be saved for it, proffered to, spent on! II.

* 1 A vestment used by ecclesiastics, and formerly * by senators and persons of high rank. Robert Browning

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My Last Duchess FERRARA. That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said ``Fr Pandolf'' by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Fr Pandolf chanced to say ``Her mantle laps ``Over my lady's wrist too much,'' or ``Paint ``Must never hope to reproduce the faint ``Half-flush that dies along her throat:'' such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart---how shall I say?---too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace---all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men,---good! but thanked Somehow---I know not how---as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech---(which I have not)---to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, ``Just this ``Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, ``Or there exceed the mark''---and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, ---E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence

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Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! Robert Browning

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My Star All, that I know Of a certain star Is, it can throw (Like the angled spar) Now a dart of red, Now a dart of blue Till my friends have said They would fain see, too, My star that dartles the red and the blue! Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled: They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it. What matter to me if their star is a world? Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it. Robert Browning

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Nationality In Drinks I. My heart sank with our Claret-flask, Just now, beneath the heavy sedges That serve this Pond's black face for mask And still at yonder broken edges O' the hole, where up the bubbles glisten, After my heart I look and listen. Our laughing little flask, compelled Thro' depth to depth more bleak and shady; As when, both arms beside her held, Feet straightened out, some gay French lady Is caught up from life's light and motion, And dropped into death's silent ocean! Up jumped Tokay on our table, Like a pygmy castle-warder, Dwarfish to see, but stout and able, Arms and accoutrements all in order; And fierce he looked North, then, wheeling South, Blew with his bugle a challenge to Drouth, Cocked his flap-hat with the tosspot-feather, Twisted his thumb in his red moustache, Jingled his huge brass spurs together, Tightened his waist with its Buda sash, And then, with an impudence nought could abash, Shrugged his hump-shoulder, to tell the beholder, For twenty such knaves he should laugh but the bolder: And so, with his sword-hilt gallantly jutting, And dexter-hand on his haunch abutting, Went the little man, Sir Ausbruch, strutting! Here's to Nelson's memory! 'Tis the second time that I, at sea, Right off Cape Trafalgar here, Have drunk it deep in British Beer. Nelson for ever---any time Am I his to command in prose or rhyme! Give me of Nelson only a touch, And I save it, be it little or much: Here's one our Captain gives, and so Down at the word, by George, shall it go! He says that at Greenwich they point the beholder To Nelson's coat, ``still with tar on the shoulder: ``For he used to lean with one shoulder digging, ----II.

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``Jigging, as it were, and zig-zag-zigging ``Up against the mizen-rigging!'' Robert Browning

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Never The Time And The Place Never the time and the place And the loved one all together! This path--how soft to pace! This May -- what magic weather! Where is the loved one's face? In a dream that loved one's face meets mine, But the house is narrow, the place is bleak Where, outside, rain and wind combine With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak, With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek, With a malice that marks each word, each sign! O enemy sly and serpentine, Uncoil thee from the waking man! Do I hold the Past Thus firm and fast Yet doubt if the Future hold I can? This path so soft to pace shall lead Thro' the magic of May to herself indeed! Or narrow if needs the house must be, Outside are the storms and strangers: we Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she, -I and she! Robert Browning

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Now! Out of your whole life give but a moment! All of your life that has gone before, All to come after it, -- so you ignore, So you make perfect the present, condense, In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment, Thought and feeling and soul and sense, Merged in a moment which gives me at last You around me for once, you beneath me, above me -Me, sure that, despite of time future, time past, This tick of life-time's one moment you love me! How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet, The moment eternal -- just that and no more -When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core, While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet! Robert Browning

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Old Pictures In Florence I. The morn when first it thunders in March, The eel in the pond gives a leap, they say: As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch Of the villa-gate this warm March day, No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled In the valley beneath where, white and wide And washed by the morning water-gold, Florence lay out on the mountain-side. River and bridge and street and square Lay mine, as much at my beck and call, Through the live translucent bath of air, As the sights in a magic crystal ball. And of all I saw and of all I praised, The most to praise and the best to see Was the startling bell-tower Giotto raised: But why did it more than startle me? Giotto, how, with that soul of yours, Could you play me false who loved you so? Some slights if a certain heart endures Yet it feels, I would have your fellows know! I' faith, I perceive not why I should care To break a silence that suits them best, But the thing grows somewhat hard to bear When I find a Giotto join the rest. On the arch where olives overhead Print the blue sky with twig and leaf, (That sharp-curled leaf which they never shed) 'Twixt the aloes, I used to lean in chief, And mark through the winter afternoons, By a gift God grants me now and then, In the mild decline of those suns like moons, Who walked in Florence, besides her men. They might chirp and chaffer, come and go For pleasure or profit, her men alive--My business was hardly with them, I trow, But with empty cells of the human hive; ---With the chapter-room, the cloister-porch, The church's apsis, aisle or nave, V. IV. III. II.

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Its crypt, one fingers along with a torch, Its face set full for the sun to shave. Wherever a fresco peels and drops, Wherever an outline weakens and wanes Till the latest life in the painting stops, Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains: One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick, Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster, ---A lion who dies of an ass's kick, The wronged great soul of an ancient Master. For oh, this world and the wrong it does They are safe in heaven with their backs to it, The Michaels and Rafaels, you hum and buzz Round the works of, you of the little wit! Do their eyes contract to the earth's old scope, Now that they see God face to face, And have all attained to be poets, I hope? 'Tis their holiday now, in any case. Much they reck of your praise and you! But the wronged great souls---can they be quit Of a world where their work is all to do, Where you style them, you of the little wit, Old Master This and Early the Other, Not dreaming that Old and New are fellows: A younger succeeds to an elder brother, Da Vincis derive in good time from Dellos. And here where your praise might yield returns, And a handsome word or two give help, Here, after your kind, the mastiff girns And the puppy pack of poodles yelp. What, not a word for Stefano there, Of brow once prominent and starry, Called Nature's Ape and the world's despair For his peerless painting? (See Vasari.) There stands the Master. Study, my friends, What a man's work comes to! So he plans it, Performs it, perfects it, makes amends X. IX. VIII. VII. VI.

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For the toiling and moiling, and then, _sic transit!_ Happier the thrifty blind-folk labour, With upturned eye while the hand is busy, Not sidling a glance at the coin of their neighbour! 'Tis looking downward that makes one dizzy. ``If you knew their work you would deal your dole.'' May I take upon me to instruct you? When Greek Art ran and reached the goal, Thus much had the world to boast _in fructu_--The Truth of Man, as by God first spoken, Which the actual generations garble, Was re-uttered, and Soul (which Limbs betoken) And Limbs (Soul informs) made new in marble. So, you saw yourself as you wished you were, As you might have been, as you cannot be; Earth here, rebuked by Olympus there: And grew content in your poor degree With your little power, by those statues' godhead, And your little scope, by their eyes' full sway, And your little grace, by their grace embodied, And your little date, by their forms that stay. You would fain be kinglier, say, than I am? Even so, you will not sit like Theseus. You would prove a model? The Son of Priam Has yet the advantage in arms' and knees' use. You're wroth---can you slay your snake like Apollo? You're grieved---still Niobe's the grander! You live---there's the Racers' frieze to follow: You die---there's the dying Alexander. So, testing your weakness by their strength, Your meagre charms by their rounded beauty, Measured by Art in your breadth and length, You learned---to submit is a mortal's duty. ---When I say ``you'' 'tis the common soul, The collective, I mean: the race of Man That receives life in parts to live in a whole, And grow here according to God's clear plan. XV. XIV. XIII. XII. XI.

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Growth came when, looking your last on them all, You turned your eyes inwardly one fine day And cried with a start---What if we so small Be greater and grander the while than they? Are they perfect of lineament, perfect of stature? In both, of such lower types are we Precisely because of our wider nature; For time, theirs---ours, for eternity. To-day's brief passion limits their range; It seethes with the morrow for us and more. They are perfect---how else? they shall never change: We are faulty---why not? we have time in store. The Artificer's hand is not arrested With us; we are rough-hewn, nowise polished: They stand for our copy, and, once invested With all they can teach, we shall see them abolished. 'Tis a life-long toil till our lump be leaven--The better! What's come to perfection perishes. Things learned on earth, we shall practise in heaven: Works done least rapidly, Art most cherishes. Thyself shalt afford the example, Giotto! Thy one work, not to decrease or diminish, Done at a stroke, was just (was it not?) ``O!'' Thy great Campanile is still to finish. Is it true that we are now, and shall be hereafter, But what and where depend on life's minute? Hails heavenly cheer or infernal laughter Our first step out of the gulf or in it? Shall Man, such step within his endeavour, Man's face, have no more play and action Than joy which is crystallized for ever, Or grief, an eternal petrifaction? On which I conclude, that the early painters, To cries of ``Greek Art and what more wish you?''--Replied, ``To become now self-acquainters, ``And paint man man, whatever the issue! ``Make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray, ``New fears aggrandize the rags and tatters: ``To bring the invisible full into play! ``Let the visible go to the dogs---what matters?'' XIX. XVIII. XVII. XVI.

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Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory For daring so much, before they well did it. The first of the new, in our race's story, Beats the last of the old; 'tis no idle quiddit. The worthies began a revolution, Which if on earth you intend to acknowledge, Why, honour them now! (ends my allocution) Nor confer your degree when the folk leave college. There's a fancy some lean to and others hate--That, when this life is ended, begins New work for the soul in another state, Where it strives and gets weary, loses and wins: Where the strong and the weak, this world's congeries, Repeat in large what they practised in small, Through life after life in unlimited series; Only the scale's to be changed, that's all. Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen By the means of Evil that Good is best, And, through earth and its noise, what is heaven's serene,--When our faith in the same has stood the test--Why, the child grown man, you burn the rod, The uses of labour are surely done; There remaineth a rest for the people of God: And I have had troubles enough, for one. But at any rate I have loved the season Of Art's spring-birth so dim and dewy; My sculptor is Nicolo<*1> the Pisan, My painter---who but Cimabue? Nor ever was man of them all indeed, From these to Ghiberti<*2> and Ghirlandaio,<*3> Could say that he missed my critic-meed. So, now to my special grievance---heigh ho! Their ghosts still stand, as I said before, Watching each fresco flaked and rasped, Blocked up, knocked out, or whitewashed o'er: ---No getting again what the church has grasped! The works on the wall must take their chance; XXIV. XXIII. XXII. XXI.

XX.

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``Works never conceded to England's thick clime!'' (I hope they prefer their inheritance Of a bucketful of Italian quick-lime.) When they go at length, with such a shaking Of heads o'er the old delusion, sadly Each master his way through the black streets taking, Where many a lost work breathes though badly--Why don't they bethink them of who has merited? Why not reveal, while their pictures dree Such doom, how a captive might be out-ferreted? Why is it they never remember me? Not that I expect the great Bigordi, Nor Sandro to hear me, chivalric, bellicose; Nor the wronged Lippino;<*4> and not a word I Say of a scrap of Fr Angelico's: But are you too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,<*5> To grant me a taste of your intonaco,<*6> Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye? Not a churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco? Could not the ghost with the close red cap, My Pollajolo,<*7> the twice a craftsman, Save me a sample, give me the hap Of a muscular Christ that shows the draughtsman? No Virgin by him the somewhat petty, Of finical touch and tempera<*8> crumbly--Could not Alesso Baldovinetti Contribute so much, I ask him humbly? Margheritone of Arezzo,<*9> With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret (Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so, You bald old saturnine poll-clawed parrot?) Not a poor glimmering Crucifixion, Where in the foreground kneels the donor? If such remain, as is my conviction, The hoarding it does you but little honour. They pass; for them the panels may thrill, The tempera grow alive and tinglish; XXIX. XXVIII. XXVII. XXVI. XXV.

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Their pictures are left to the mercies still Of dealers and stealers, Jews and the English, Who, seeing mere money's worth in their prize, Will sell it to somebody calm as Zeno At naked High Art, and in ecstasies Before some clay-cold vile Carlino! No matter for these! But Giotto, you, Have you allowed, as the town-tongues babble it,--Oh, never! it shall not be counted true--That a certain precious little tablet Which Buonarroti eyed like a lover,--Was buried so long in oblivion's womb And, left for another than I to discover, Turns up at last! and to whom?---to whom? I, that have haunted the dim San Spirito, (Or was it rather the Ognissanti<*10>?) Patient on altar-step planting a weary toe! Nay, I shall have it yet! _Detur amanti!_ My Koh-i-noor-or (if that's a platitude) Jewel of Giamschid, the Persian Sofi's eye So, in anticipative gratitude, What if I take up my hope and prophesy? When the hour grows ripe, and a certain dotard Is pitched, no parcel that needs invoicing, To the worse side of the Mont Saint Gothard, We shall begin by way of rejoicing; None of that shooting the sky (blank cartridge), Nor a civic guard, all plumes and lacquer, Hunting Radetzky's soul like a partridge Over Morello with squib and cracker. This time we'll shoot better game and bag 'em hot--No mere display at the stone of Dante, But a kind of sober Witanagemot (Ex: ``Casa Guidi,'' _quod videas ante_) Shall ponder, once Freedom restored to Florence, How Art may return that departed with her. Go, hated house, go each trace of the Loraine's, And bring us the days of Orgagna<*11> hither!
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XXXI.

XXXII.

XXXIII.

XXXIV.

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How we shall prologize, how we shall perorate, Utter fit things upon art and history, Feel truth at blood-heat and falsehood at zero rate, Make of the want of the age no mystery; Contrast the fructuous and sterile eras, Show---monarchy ever its uncouth cub licks Out of the bear's shape into Chimra's, While Pure Art's birth is still the republic's. Then one shall propose in a speech (curt Tuscan, Expurgate and sober, with scarcely an ``_issimo,_'') To end now our half-told tale of Cambuscan,<*12> And turn the bell-tower's _alt_ to _altissimo_: And fine as the beak of a young beccaccia<*13> The Campanile, the Duomo's fit ally, Shall soar up in gold full fifty braccia, Completing Florence, as Florence Italy. Shall I be alive that morning the scaffold Is broken away, and the long-pent fire, Like the golden hope of the world, unbaffled Springs from its sleep, and up goes the spire While ``God and the People'' plain for its motto, Thence the new tricolour flaps at the sky? At least to foresee that glory of Giotto And Florence together, the first am I! XXXVI. XXXV.

* 1 A sculptor, died 1278. * 2 Died 1455. Designed the bronze gates of the Baptistry at Florence. * 3 A painter, died 1498. * 4 The son of Fr Lippo Lippi. Wronged, because some of his * pictures have been attributed to others. * 5 Died 1366. One of Giotto's pupils and assistants. * 6 Rough cast. * 7 Painter, sculptor, and goldsmith. * 8 Distemper---mixture of water and egg yolk. * 9 Sculptor and architect, died 1313*10 All Saints. *11 A Florentine painter, died 1576. *12 Tartar king. *13 A woodcock Robert Browning

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One Way Of Love . All June I bound the rose in sheaves. Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves And strew them where Pauline may pass. She will not turn aside? Alas! Let them lie. Suppose they die? The chance was they might take her eye. How many a month I strove to suit These stubborn fingers to the lute! To-day I venture all I know. She will not hear my music? So! Break the string; fold music's wing: Suppose Pauline had bade me sing! My whole life long I learned to love. This hour my utmost art I prove And speak my passion---heaven or hell? She will not give me heaven? 'Tis well! Lose who may---I still can say, Those who win heaven, blest are they! Robert Browning III. II.

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Over the Sea our Galleys Went Over the sea our galleys went, With cleaving prows in order brave, To a speeding wind and a bounding wave, A gallant armament: Each bark built out of a forest-tree,

Left leafy and rough as first it grew, And nailed all over the gaping sides, Within and without, with black bull-hides, Seethed in fat and suppled in flame, To bear the playful billows' game: So, each good ship was rude to see, Rude and bare to the outward view, But each upbore a stately tent Where cedar-pales in scented row Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine, And an awning drooped the mast below, In fold on fold of the purple fine, That neither noontide nor star-shine Nor moonlight cold which maketh mad,

Might pierce the regal tenement. When the sun dawned, oh, gay and glad We set the sail and plied the oar; But when the night-wind blew like breath, For joy of one day's voyage more, We sang together on the wide sea, Like men at peace on a peaceful shore; Each sail was loosed to the wind so free, Each helm made sure by the twilight star, And in a sleep as calm as death, We, the voyagers from afar,

Lay stretched along, each weary crew In a circle round its wondrous tent Whence gleamed soft light and curled rich scent,

And with light and perfume, music too: So the stars wheeled round, and the darkness past, And at morn we started beside the mast, And still each ship was sailing fast! Now, one morn, land appeared!--a speck Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky: "Avoid it," cried our pilot, "check The shout, restrain the eager eye!" But the heaving sea was black behind For many a night and many a day, And land, though but a rock, drew nigh;

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So, we broke the cedar pales away, Let the purple awning flap in the wind,

And a statue bright was on every deck! We shouted, every man of us, And steered right into the harbour thus, With pomp and paean glorious. A hundred shapes of lucid stone! All day we built its shrine for each, A shrine of rock for every one, Nor paused we till in the westering sun

We sat together on the beach To sing because our task was done. When lo! what shouts and merry songs! What laughter all the distance stirs! A loaded raft with happy throngs Of gentle islanders! "Our isles are just at hand," they cried, "Like cloudlets faint in even sleeping; Our temple-gates are opened wide,

Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping For these majestic forms"--they cried. Oh, then we awoke with sudden start From our deep dream, and knew, too late, How bare the rock, how desolate, Which had received our precious freight: Yet we called out--"Depart! Our gifts, once given, must here abide. Our work is done; we have no heart To mar our work,"--we cried.

Robert Browning

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Overhead the Tree-Tops Meet Overhead the tree-tops meet, Flowers and grass spring 'neath one's feet; There was nought above me, and nought below, My childhood had not learned to know: For what are the voices of birds —Ay, and of beasts,—but words—our words, Only so much more sweet? The knowledge of that with my life begun! But I had so near made out the sun, And counted your stars, the Seven and One, Like the fingers of my hand: Nay, I could all but understand Wherefore through heaven the white moon ranges, And just when out of her soft fifty changes No unfamiliar face might overlook me— Suddenly God took me! Robert Browning

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Pan and Luna <i>Si credere dignum est.--Virgil, Georgics, III, 390</i> Oh, worthy of belief I hold it was, Virgil, your legend in those strange three lines! No question, that adventure came to pass One black night in Arcadia: yes, the pines, Mountains and valleys mingling made one mass Of black with void black heaven: the earth's confines, The sky's embrace,--below, above, around, All hardened into black without a bound. Fill up a swart stone chalice to the brim With fresh-squeezed yet fast-thickening poppy-juice: See how the sluggish jelly, late a-swim, Turns marble to the touch of who would loose The solid smooth, grown jet from rim to rim, By turning round the bowl! So night can fuse Earth with her all-comprising sky. No less, Light, the least spark, shows air and emptiness. And thus it proved when--diving into space, Stript of all vapor, from each web of mist, Utterly film-free--entered on her race The naked Moon, full-orbed antagonist Of night and dark, night's dowry: peak to base, Upstarted mountains, and each valley, kissed To sudden life, lay silver-bright: in air Flew she revealed, Maid-Moon with limbs all bare.

Still as she fled, each depth,--where refuge seemed-Opening a lone pale chamber, left distinct Those limbs: mid still-retreating blue, she teemed Herself with whiteness,--virginal, uncinct By any halo save what finely gleamed To outline not disguise her: heavenwas linked In one accord with earth to quaff the joy, Drain beauty to the dregs without alloy. Whereof she grew aware. What help? When, lo, A succorable cloud with sleep lay dense: Some pinetree-top had caught it sailing slow, And tethered for a prize: in evidence Captive lay fleece on fleece of piled-up snow Drowsily patient: flake-heaped how or whence, The structure of that succorable cloud, What matter? Shamed she plunged into its shroud. Orbed--so the woman-figure poets call Because of rounds on rounds--that apple-shaped Head which its hair binds close into a ball Each side the curving ears--that pure undraped

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Pout of the sister paps--that . . . once for all, Say--her consummate circle thus escaped With its innumerous circlets, sank absorbed, Safe in the cloud--O naked Moon full-orbed!

But what means this? The downy swathes combine, Conglobe, the smothery coy-caressing stuff Curdles about her! Vain each twist and twine Those lithe limbs try, encroached on by a fluff Fitting as close as fits the dented spine Its flexible ivory outside-flesh: enough! The plumy drifts contract, condense, constringe, Till she is swallowed by the feathery springe.

As when a pearl slips lost in the thin foam Churned on a sea-shore, and, o'er-frothed, conceits Herself safe-housed in Amphitrite's dome,-If, through the bladdery wave-worked yeast, she meets What most she loathes and leaps from,--elf from gnome No gladlier,--finds that safest of retreats Bubble about a treacherous hand wide ope To grasp her--(divers who pick pearls so grope)-So lay this Maid-Moon clasped around and caught By rough red Pan, the god of all that tract: He it was schemed the snare thus subtly wrought With simulated earth-breath,--wool-tufts packed Into a billowy wrappage. Sheep far-sought For spotless shearings yield such: take the fact As learned Virgil gives it,--how the breed Whitens itself forever: yes, indeed!

If one forefather ram, though pure as chalk From tinge on fleece, should still display a tongue Black 'neath the beast's moist palate, prompt men balk The propagating plague: he gets no young: They rather slay him,--sell his hide to calk Ships with, first steeped with pitch,--nor hands are wrung In sorrow for his fate: protected thus, The purity we loved is gained for us. So did girl-Moon, by just her attribute Of unmatched modesty betrayed, lie trapped, Bruised to the breast of Pan, half god half brute, Raked by his bristly boar-sward while he lapped --Never say, kissed her! that were to pollute Love's language--which moreover proves unapt To tell how she recoiled--as who finds thorns Where she sought flowers--when, feeling, she touched--horns! Then--does the legend say?--first moon-eclipse Happened, first swooning-fit which puzzled sore The early sages? Is that why she dips Into the dark, a minute and no more,

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Only so long as serves her while she rips The cloud's womb through and, faultless as before, Pursues her way? No lesson for a maid Left she, a maid herself thus trapped, betrayed? Ha, Virgil? Tell the rest, you! "To the deep Of his domain the wildwood, Pan forthwith Called her, and so she followed"--in her sleep, Surely?--"by no means spurning him." The myth Explain who may! Let all else go, I keep --As of a ruin just a monolith-Thus much, one verse of five words, each a boon: Arcadia, night, a cloud, Pan, and the moon. Robert Browning

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Parting At Morning Round the cape of a sudden came the sea, And the sun looked over the mountain's rim: And straight was a path of gold for him, And the need of a world of men for me. Robert Browning

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Patriot, The AN OLD STORY. It was roses, roses, all the way, With myrtle mixed in my path like mad: The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway, The church-spires flamed, such flags they had, A year ago on this very day. The air broke into a mist with bells, The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries. Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels--But give me your sun from yonder skies!'' They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?'' Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun To give it my loving friends to keep! Nought man could do, have I left undone: And you see my harvest, what I reap This very day, now a year is run. There's nobody on the house-tops now--Just a palsied few at the windows set; For the best of the sight is, all allow, At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet, By the very scaffold's foot, I trow. I go in the rain, and, more than needs, A rope cuts both my wrists behind; And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds, For they fling, whoever has a mind, Stones at me for my year's misdeeds. Thus I entered, and thus I go! In triumphs, people have dropped down dead. ``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe ``Me?''---God might question; now instead, 'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so. Robert Browning VI. V. IV. III. II. I.

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Pied Piper Of Hamelin, The A CHILD'S STORY. I. (_Written for, and inscribed to, W. M. the Younger._) Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin, was a pity. Rats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles, Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats. At last the people in a body To the Town Hall came flocking: ``'Tis clear,'' cried they, ``our Mayor's a noddy; ``And as for our Corporation---shocking. ``To think we buy gowns lined with ermine ``For dolts that can't or won't determine ``What's best to rid us of our vermin! ``You hope, because you're old and obese, ``To find in the furry civic robe ease? ``Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking ``To find the remedy we're lacking, ``Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!'' At this the Mayor and Corporation Quaked with a mighty consternation. An hour they sat in council, At length the Mayor broke silence: ``For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell, IV. III. II.

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``I wish I were a mile hence! ``It's easy to bid one rack one's brain--``I'm sure my poor head aches again, ``I've scratched it so, and all in vain. ``Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!'' Just as he said this, what should hap At the chamber door but a gentle tap? ``Bless us,'' cried the Mayor, ``what's that?'' (With the Corporation as he sat, Looking little though wondrous fat; Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister Than a too-long-opened oyster, Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous For a plate of turtle green and glutinous) ``Only a scraping of shoes on the mat? ``Anything like the sound of a rat ``Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!'' ``Come in!''---the Mayor cried, looking bigger: And in did come the strangest figure! His queer long coat from heel to head Was half of yellow and half of red, And he himself was tall and thin, With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin, No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin, But lips where smiles went out and in; There was no guessing his kith and kin: And nobody could enough admire The tall man and his quaint attire. Quoth one: ``It's as my great-grandsire, ``Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone, ``Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!'' He advanced to the council-table And, ``Please your honours,'' said he, ``I'm able, ``By means of a secret charm, to draw ``All creatures living beneath the sun, ``That creep or swim or fly or run, ``After me so as you never saw! ``And I chiefly use my charm ``On creatures that do people harm, ``The mole and toad and newt and viper; ``And people call me the Pied Piper.'' (And here they noticed round his neck A scarf of red and yellow stripe, To match with his coat of the self-same cheque; And at the scarf's end hung a pipe; VI. V.

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And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying As if impatient to be playing Upon this pipe, as low it dangled Over his vesture so old-fangled.) ``Yet,'' said he, ``poor piper as I am, ``In Tartary I freed the Cham, ``Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats; ``I eased in Asia the Nizam ``Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats: ``And as for what your brain bewilders, ``If I can rid your town of rats ``Will you give me a thousand guilders?'' ``One? fifty thousand!''---was the exclamation Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation. Into the street the Piper stept, Smiling first a little smile, As if he knew what magic slept In his quiet pipe the while; Then, like a musical adept, To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled, And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled, Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled; And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, You heard as if an army muttered; And the muttering grew to a grumbling; And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling; And out of the houses the rats came tumbling. Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats, Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, Cocking tails and pricking whiskers, Families by tens and dozens, Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives--Followed the Piper for their lives. From street to street he piped advancing, And step for step they followed dancing, Until they came to the river Weser, Wherein all plunged and perished! ---Save one who, stout as Julius C<ae>sar, Swam across and lived to carry (As he, the manuscript he cherished) To Rat-land home his commentary: Which was, ``At the first shrill notes of the pipe, ``I heard a sound as of scraping tripe, ``And putting apples, wondrous ripe, ``Into a cider-press's gripe: ``And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards, ``And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards, VII.

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``And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks, ``And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks: ``And it seemed as if a voice ``(Sweeter far than b<y'> harp or b<y'> psaltery ``Is breathed) called out, `Oh rats, rejoice! `` `The world is grown to one vast drysaltery! `` `So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, `` `Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!' ``And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, ``All ready staved, like a great sun shone ``Glorious scarce an inch before me, ``Just as methought it said, `Come, bore me!' ``---I found the Weser rolling o'er me.'' You should have heard the Hamelin people ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple. ``Go,'' cried the Mayor, ``and get long poles, ``Poke out the nests and block up the holes! ``Consult with carpenters and builders, ``And leave in our town not even a trace ``Of the rats!''---when suddenly, up the face Of the Piper perked in the market-place, With a, ``First, if you please, my thousand guilders!'' A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue; So did the Corporation too. For council dinners made rare havoc With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock; And half the money would replenish Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish. To pay this sum to a wandering fellow With a gipsy coat of red and yellow! ``Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink, ``Our business was done at the river's brink; ``We saw with our eyes the vermin sink, ``And what's dead can't come to life, I think. ``So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink ``From the duty of giving you something for drink, ``And a matter of money to put in your poke; ``But as for the guilders, what we spoke ``Of them, as you very well know, was in joke. ``Beside, our losses have made us thrifty. ``A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!'' The Piper's face fell, and he cried ``No trifling! I can't wait, beside! X. IX. VIII.

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``I've promised to visit by dinnertime ``Bagdat, and accept the prime ``Of the Head-Cook's pottage, all he's rich in, ``For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen, ``Of a nest of scorpions no survivor: ``With him I proved no bargain-driver, ``With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver! ``And folks who put me in a passion ``May find me pipe after another fashion.'' ``How?'' cried the Mayor, ``d'ye think I brook ``Being worse treated than a Cook? ``Insulted by a lazy ribald ``With idle pipe and vesture piebald? ``You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst, ``Blow your pipe there till you burst!'' Once more he stept into the street And to his lips again Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane; And ere he blew three notes (such sweet Soft notes as yet musician's cunning Never gave the enraptured air) There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling, Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering, Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering, And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering, Out came the children running. All the little boys and girls, With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after The wonderful music with shouting and laughter. The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood As if they were changed into blocks of wood, Unable to move a step, or cry To the children merrily skipping by, ---Could only follow with the eye That joyous crowd at the Piper's back. But how the Mayor was on the rack, And the wretched Council's bosoms beat, As the Piper turned from the High Street To where the Weser rolled its waters Right in the way of their sons and daughters! XIII. XII. XI.

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However be turned from South to West, And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed, And after him the children pressed; Great was the joy in every breast. ``He never can cross that mighty top! ``He's forced to let the piping drop, ``And we shall see our children stop!'' When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side, A wondrous portal opened wide, As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; And the Piper advanced and the children followed, And when all were in to the very last, The door in the mountain-side shut fast. Did I say, all? No! One was lame, And could not dance the whole of the way; And in after years, if you would blame His sadness, he was used to say,--``It's dull in our town since my playmates left! ``I can't forget that I'm bereft ``Of all the pleasant sights they see, ``Which the Piper also promised me. ``For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, ``Joining the town and just at hand, ``Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew ``And flowers put forth a fairer hue, ``And everything was strange and new; ``The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here, ``And their dogs outran our fallow deer, ``And honey-bees had lost their stings, ``And horses were born with eagles' wings: ``And just as I became assured ``My lame foot would be speedily cured, ``The music stopped and I stood still, ``And found myself outside the hill, ``Left alone against my will, ``To go now limping as before, ``And never hear of that country more!'' Alas, alas for Hamelin! There came into many a burgher's pate A text which says that heaven's gate Opes to the rich at as easy rate As the needle's eye takes a camel in! The mayor sent East, West, North and South, To offer the Piper, by word of mouth, Wherever it was men's lot to find him, Silver and gold to his heart's content, If he'd only return the way he went, And bring the children behind him. But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour, XIV.

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And Piper and dancers were gone for ever, They made a decree that lawyers never Should think their records dated duly If, after the day of the month and year, These words did not as well appear, ``And so long after what happened here ``On the Twenty-second of July, ``Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:'' And the better in memory to fix The place of the children's last retreat, They called it, the Pied Piper's Street--Where any one playing on pipe or tabor Was sure for the future to lose his labour. Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern To shock with mirth a street so solemn; But opposite the place of the cavern They wrote the story on a column, And on the great church-window painted The same, to make the world acquainted How their children were stolen away, And there it stands to this very day. And I must not omit to say That in Transylvania there's a tribe Of alien people who ascribe The outlandish ways and dress On which their neighbours lay such stress, To their fathers and mothers having risen Out of some subterraneous prison Into which they were trepanned Long time ago in a mighty band Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land, But how or why, they don't understand. So, Willy, let me and you be wipers Of scores out with all men---especially pipers! And, whether they pipe us free fr<o'>m rats or fr<o'>m mice, If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise! Robert Browning XV.

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Pippa's Song The year's at the spring, And day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hill-side's dew-pearl'd; The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn; God's in His heaven-All's right with the world! Robert Browning

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Popularity I. Stand still, true poet that you are! I know you; let me try and draw you. Some night you'll fail us: when afar You rise, remember one man saw you, Knew you, and named a star! My star, God's glow-worm! Why extend That loving hand of his which leads you Yet locks you safe from end to end Of this dark world, unless he needs you, just saves your light to spend? His clenched hand shall unclose at last, I know, and let out all the beauty: My poet holds the future fast, Accepts the coming ages' duty, Their present for this past. That day, the earth's feast-master's brow Shall clear, to God the chalice raising; ``Others give best at first, but thou ``Forever set'st our table praising, ``Keep'st the good wine till now!'' Meantime, I'll draw you as you stand, With few or none to watch and wonder: I'll say---a fisher, on the sand By Tyre the old, with ocean-plunder, A netful, brought to land. Who has not heard how Tyrian shells Enclosed the blue, that dye of dyes Whereof one drop worked miracles, And coloured like Astarte's<*1> eyes Raw silk the merchant sells? And each bystander of them all Could criticize, and quote tradition VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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How depths of blue sublimed some pall ---To get which, pricked a king's ambition Worth sceptre, crown and ball. Yet there's the dye, in that rough mesh, The sea has only just o'erwhispered! Live whelks, each lip's beard dripping fresh, As if they still the water's lisp heard Through foam the rock-weeds thresh. Enough to furnish Solomon Such hangings for his cedar-house, That, when gold-robed he took the throne In that abyss of blue, the Spouse Might swear his presence shone Most like the centre-spike of gold Which burns deep in the blue-bell's womb, What time, with ardours manifold, The bee goes singing to her groom, Drunken and overbold. Mere conchs! not fit for warp or woof! Till cunning come to pound and squeeze And clarify,---refine to proof The liquor filtered by degrees, While the world stands aloof. And there's the extract, flasked and fine, And priced and saleable at last! And Hobbs, Nobbs, Stokes and Nokes combine To paint the future from the past, Put blue into their line. Hobbs hints blue,---Straight he turtle eats: Nobbs prints blue,---claret crowns his cup: Nokes outdares Stokes in azure feats,--Both gorge. Who fished the murex<*2> up? What porridge had John Keats?
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VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

* 1 The Syrian Venus. * 2 Molluscs from which the famous Tyrian * purple dye was obtained. Robert Browning

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Porphyria's Lover The rain set early in to-night, The sullen wind was soon awake, It tore the elm-tops down for spite, And did its worst to vex the lake: I listened with heart fit to break. When glided in Porphyria; straight She shut the cold out and the storm, And kneeled and made the cheerless grate Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; Which done, she rose, and from her form Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, And laid her soiled gloves by, untied Her hat and let the damp hair fall, And, last, she sat down by my side And called me. When no voice replied, She put my arm about her waist, And made her smooth white shoulder bare, And all her yellow hair displaced, And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair, Murmuring how she loved me---she Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour, To set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever, And give herself to me for ever. But passion sometimes would prevail, Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain A sudden thought of one so pale For love of her, and all in vain: So, she was come through wind and rain. Be sure I looked up at her eyes Happy and proud; at last I knew Porphyria worshipped me; surprise Made my heart swell, and still it grew While I debated what to do. That moment she was mine, mine, fair, Perfectly pure and good: I found A thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string I wound Three times her little throat around, And strangled her. No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain. As a shut bud that holds a bee, I warily oped her lids: again Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And I untightened next the tress About her neck; her cheek once more Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss: I propped her head up as before, Only, this time my shoulder bore Her head, which droops upon it still: The smiling rosy little head,

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So glad it has its utmost will, That all it scorned at once is fled, And I, its love, am gained instead! Porphyria's love: she guessed not how Her darling one wish would be heard. And thus we sit together now, And all night long we have not stirred, And yet God has not said a word! Robert Browning

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Prospice Fear death?---to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form; Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall, Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so---one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, And made me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers, The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears Of pain, darkness and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave. The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain. Then a light, then thy breat, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest! Robert Browning

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Protus Among these latter busts we count by scores, Half-emperors and quarter-emperors, Each with his bay-leaf fillet, loose-thonged vest, Loricand low-browed Gorgon on the breast,--One loves a baby face, with violets there, Violets instead of laurel in the hair, As those were all the little locks could bear.

Now read here. ``Protus ends a period ``Of empery beginning with a god; ``Born in the porphyry chamber at Byzant, ``Queens by his cradle, proud and ministrant: ``And if he quickened breath there, 'twould like fire ``Pantingly through the dim vast realm transpire. ``A fame that he was missing spread afar: ``The world from its four corners, rose in war, ``Till he was borne out on a balcony ``To pacify the world when it should see. ``The captains ranged before him, one, his hand ``Made baby points at, gained the chief command. ``And day by day more beautiful he grew ``In shape, all said, in feature and in hue, ``While young Greek sculptors, gazing on the child, ``Because with old Greek sculptore reconciled. ``Already sages laboured to condense ``In easy tomes a life's experience: ``And artists took grave counsel to impart ``In one breath and one hand-sweep, all their art--``To make his graces prompt as blossoming ``Of plentifully-watered palms in spring: ``Since well beseems it, whoso mounts the throne, ``For beauty, knowledge, strength, should stand alone, ``And mortals love the letters of his name.'' ---Stop! Have you turned two pages? Still the same. New reign, same date. The scribe goes on to say How that same year, on such a month and day, ``John the Pannonian, groundedly believed ``A Blacksmith's bastard, whose hard hand reprieved ``The Empire from its fate the year before,--``Came, had a mind to take the crown, and wore ``The same for six years (during which the Huns ``Kept off their fingers from us), till his sons ``Put something in his liquor''---and so forth. Then a new reign. Stay---``Take at its just worth'' (Subjoins an annotator) ``what I give ``As hearsay. Some think, John let Protus live ``And slip away. 'Tis said, he reached man's age ``At some blind northern court; made, first a page, ``Then tutor to the children; last, of use ``About the hunting-stables. I deduce ``He wrote the little tract `On worming dogs,'

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``Whereof the name in sundry catalogues ``Is extant yet. A Protus of the race ``Is rumoured to have died a monk in Thrace,--``And if the same, he reached senility.''

Here's John the Smith's rough-hammered head. Great eye, Gross jaw and griped lips do what granite can To give you the crown-grasper. What a man! Robert Browning

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Rabbi Ben Ezra Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith 'A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'

Not that, amassing flowers, Youth sighed 'Which rose make ours, Which lily leave and then as best recall?' Not that, admiring stars, It yearned 'Nor Jove, nor Mars; Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!' Not for such hopes and fears Annulling youth's brief years, Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark! Rather I prize the doubt Low kinds exist without, Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.

Poor vaunt of life indeed, Were man but formed to feed On joy, to solely seek and find and feast: Such feasting ended, then As sure an end to men; Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast? Rejoice we are allied To That which doth provide And not partake, effect and not receive! A spark disturbs our clod; Nearer we hold of God Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.

Then, welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go! Be our joys three-parts pain! Strive, and hold cheap the strain; Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe! For thence,--a paradox Which comforts while it mocks,-Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail: What I aspired to be, And was not, comforts me: A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale. What is he but a brute Whose flesh has soul to suit, Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?

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To man, propose this test-Thy body at its best, How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?

Yet gifts should prove their use: I own the Past profuse Of power each side, perfection every turn: Eyes, ears took in their dole, Brain treasured up the whole; Should not the heart beat once 'How good to live and learn?' Not once beat 'Praise be Thine! I see the whole design, I, who saw power, see now love perfect too: Perfect I call Thy plan: Thanks that I was a man! Maker, remake, complete,--I trust what Thou shalt do!' For pleasant is this flesh; Our soul, in its rose-mesh Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest; Would we some prize might hold To match those manifold Possessions of the brute,--gain most, as we did best!

Let us not always say, 'Spite of this flesh to-day I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!' As the bird wings and sings, Let us cry 'All good things Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!' Therefore I summon age To grant youth's heritage, Life's struggle having so far reached its term: Thence shall I pass, approved A man, for aye removed From the developed brute; a god though in the germ. And I shall thereupon Take rest, ere I be gone Once more on my adventure brave and new: Fearless and unperplexed, When I wage battle next, What weapons to select, what armour to indue.

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Youth ended, I shall try My gain or loss thereby; Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold: And I shall weigh the same, Give life its praise or blame: Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old.

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For note, when evening shuts, A certain moment cuts The deed off, calls the glory from the grey: A whisper from the west Shoots--'Add this to the rest, Take it and try its worth: here dies another day.'

So, still within this life, Though lifted o'er its strife, Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last, This rage was right i' the main, That acquiescence vain: The Future I may face now I have proved the Past.'

For more is not reserved To man, with soul just nerved To act to-morrow what he learns to-day: Here, work enough to watch The Master work, and catch Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.

As it was better, youth Should strive, through acts uncouth, Toward making, than repose on aught found made: So, better, age, exempt From strife, should know, than tempt Further. Thou waitedst age: wait death nor be afraid! Enough now, if the Right And Good and Infinite Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own With knowledge absolute, Subject to no dispute From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.

Be there, for once and all, Severed great minds from small, Announced to each his station in the Past! Was I, the world arraigned, Were they, my soul disdained, Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last! Now, who shall arbitrate? Ten men love what I hate, Shun what I follow, slight what I receive; Ten, who in ears and eyes Match me: we all surmise, They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe? Not on the vulgar mass Called 'work,' must sentence pass, Things done, that took the eye and had the price;

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O'er which, from level stand, The low world laid its hand, Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:

But all, the world's coarse thumb And finger failed to plumb, So passed in making up the main account; All instincts immature, All purposes unsure, That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount: Thoughts hardly to be packed Into a narrow act, Fancies that broke through language and escaped; All I could never be, All, men ignored in me, This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.

Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,-Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 'Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!' Fool! All that is, at all, Lasts ever, past recall; Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure: What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be: Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure. He fixed thee mid this dance Of plastic circumstance, This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest: Machinery just meant To give thy soul its bent, Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed. What though the earlier grooves, Which ran the laughing loves Around thy base, no longer pause and press? What though, about thy rim, Skull-things in order grim Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress?

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Look not thou down but up! To uses of a cup, The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal, The new wine's foaming flow, The Master's lips a-glow! Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's wheel?

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But I need, now as then, Thee, God, who mouldest men; And since, not even while the whirl was worst, Did I,--to the wheel of life With shapes and colours rife, Bound dizzily,--mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst:

So, take and use Thy work: Amend what flaws may lurk, What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim! My times be in Thy hand! Perfect the cup as planned! Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same! Robert Browning

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Respectability I. Dear, had the world in its caprice Deigned to proclaim ``I know you both, ``Have recognized your plighted troth, Am sponsor for you: live in peace!''--How many precious months and years Of youth had passed, that speed so fast, Before we found it out at last, The world, and what it fears? How much of priceless life were spent With men that every virtue decks, And women models of their sex, Society's true ornament,--Ere we dared wander, nights like this, Thro' wind and rain, and watch the Seine, And feel the Boulevart break again To warmth and light and bliss? I know! the world proscribes not love; Allows my finger to caress Your lips' contour and downiness, Provided it supply a glove. The world's good word!---the Institute! Guizot receives Montalembert! Eh? Down the court three lampions flare: Put forward your best foot! Robert Browning III. II.

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Saul I. Said Abner, ``At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak, ``Kiss my cheek, wish me well!'' Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek. And he, ``Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent, ``Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent ``Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet, ``Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet. ``For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three days, ``Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise, ``To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife, ``And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life. ``Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God's child with his dew ``On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue ``Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat ``Were now raging to torture the desert!'' Then I, as was meet, Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet, And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped; I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone, That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed, And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid But spoke, ``Here is David, thy servant!'' And no voice replied. At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried A something more black than the blackness---the vast, the upright Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all. Then a sunbeam, that burst thro' the tent-roof, showed Saul. He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side; He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs, Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come With the spring-time,---so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb. Then I tuned my harp,---took off the lilies we twine round its chords Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noon-tide---those sunbeams like swords! And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one, So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done. V. IV. III. II.

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They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed; And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star Into eve and the blue far above us,---so blue and so far! ---Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight To set the quick jerboa<*1> amusing outside his sand house--There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse! God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear, To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here. VII. VI.

Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand And grow one in the sense of this world's life.---And then, the last song When the dead man is praised on his journey---``Bear, bear him along ``With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here ``To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier. ``Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!''---And then, the glad chaunt Of the marriage,---first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.---And then, the great march Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?---Then, the chorus intoned As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned. But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned. And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart; And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan dart From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start, All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart. So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect. And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked, As I sang,--``Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste, ``Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced. ``Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock, ``The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock ``Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear, ``And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair. ``And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine, ``And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine, IX. VIII.

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``And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell ``That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well. ``How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ ``All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy! ``Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard ``When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward? ``Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung ``The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue ``Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest, `` `I have lived, seen God's hand thro'a lifetime, and all was for best'? ``Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest. ``And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew ``Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true: ``And the friends of thy boyhood---that boyhood of wonder and hope, ``Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope,--``Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine; ``And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine! ``On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe ``That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go) ``High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,---all ``Brought to blaze on the head of one creature---King Saul!'' And lo, with that leap of my spirit,---heart, hand, harp and voice, Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice Saul's fame in the light it was made for---as when, dare I say, The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array, And up soareth the cherubim-chariot---``Saul!'' cried I, and stopped, And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name. Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim, And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone, While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,---leaves grasp of the sheet? Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet, And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old, With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold--Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest---all hail, there they are! ---Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware. What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, 'twixt hope and despair; Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand To their place what new objects should enter: 'twas Saul as before. I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore, At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean---a sun's slow decline X.

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Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm O'er the chest whose slow heavings subsided. What spell or what charm, (For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge To sustain him where song had restored him?---Song filled to the verge His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields, Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by? He saith, ``It is good;'' still he drinks not: he lets me praise life, Gives assent, yet would die for his own part. Then fancies grew rife Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep Fed in silence---above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep; And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie 'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky: And I laughed---``Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks, ``Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks, ``Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show ``Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know! ``Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains, ``And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.'' And now these old trains Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus--``Yea, my King,'' I began---``thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring ``From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute: ``In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit. ``Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,---how its stem trembled first ``Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler then safely outburst ``The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn ``Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn, ``E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight, ``When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight ``Of the palm's self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch ``Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch ``Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine. ``Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine! ``By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy ``More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy. ``Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done ``Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun XIII. XII. XI.

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``Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface, ``Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace ``The results of his past summer-prime'---so, each ray of thy will, ``Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill ``Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth ``A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North ``With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past! ``But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last: ``As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height ``So with man---so his power and his beauty for ever take flight. ``No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o'er the years! ``Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's! ``Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb---bid arise ``A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies, ``Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know? ``Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go ``In great characters cut by the scribe,---Such was Saul, so he did; ``With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,--``For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend, ``In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend ``(See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record ``With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,---the statesman's great word ``Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's a-wave ``With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave: ``So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part ``In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!'' And behold while I sang ... but O Thou who didst grant me that day, And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay, Carry on and complete an adventure,---my shield and my sword In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,--Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour And scaling the highest, man's thought could, gazed hopeless as ever On the new stretch of heaven above me---till, mighty to save, Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance---God's throne from man's grave! Let me tell out my tale to its ending---my voice to my heart Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part, As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep, And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep! For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron<*2> upheaves The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron<*3> retrieves Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine. I say then,---my song While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong Made a proffer of good to console him---he slowly resumed His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes XV. XIV.

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Of his turban, and see---the huge sweat that his countenance bathes, He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore, And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before. He is Saul, ye remember in glory,---ere error had bent The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose, To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose. So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile, And sat out my singing,---one arm round the tent-prop, to raise His bent head, and the other hung slack---till I touched on the praise I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there; And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was 'ware That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power--All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower. Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine--And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign? I yearned---``Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss, ``I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this; ``I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence, ``As this moment,---had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!'' Then the truth came upon me. No harp more---no song more! outbroke--``I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke: ``I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain ``And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work---returned him again ``His creation's approval or censure: I spoke as I saw: ``I report, as a man may of God's work---all's love, yet all's law. ``Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked ``To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked. ``Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare. ``Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care! ``Do I task any faculty highest, to image success? ``I but open my eyes,---and perfection, no more and no less, ``In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God ``In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod. ``And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew ``(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too) ``The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's all-complete, ``As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet. ``Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known, XVII. XVI.

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``I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own. ``There's a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink, ``I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think) ``Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst ``E'en the Giver in one gift.---Behold, I could love if I durst! ``But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake ``God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake. ``---What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small, ``Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal? ``In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all? ``Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift, ``That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift? ``Here, the creature surpass the Creator,---the end, what Began? ``Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man, ``And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can? ``Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power, ``To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower ``Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul, ``Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole? ``And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest) ``These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best? ``Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height ``This perfection,---succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of night? ``Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake, ``Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,---and bid him awake ``From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set ``Clear and safe in new light and new life,---a new harmony yet ``To be run, and continued, and ended---who knows?---or endure! ``The man taught enough, by life's dream, of the rest to make sure; ``By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss, ``And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this. ``I believe it! 'Tis thou, God, that givest, 'tis I who receive: ``In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe. ``All's one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer ``As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air. ``From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth: ``_I_ will?---the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth ``To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare ``Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair? ``This;---'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do! ``See the King---I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through. ``Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich, ``To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would---knowing which, ``I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now! ``Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou---so wilt thou! ``So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown--``And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down ``One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath, ``Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death! XVIII.

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``As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved ``Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved! ``He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak. ``'Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek ``In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be ``A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me, ``Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand ``Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!'' I know not too well how I found my way home in the night. There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right, Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware: I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there, As a runner beset by the populace famished for news--Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews; And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not, For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest, Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest. Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth--Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth; In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills; In the shuddering forests' held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills; In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe: E'en the serpent that slid away silent,---he felt the new law. The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers; The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers: And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low, With their obstinate, all but hushed voices---``E'en so, it is so!'' * 1 The jumping hare. * 2 One of the three cities of Refuge. * 3 A brook in Jerusalem. Robert Browning XIX.

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Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister I. Gr-r-r---there go, my heart's abhorrence! Water your damned flower-pots, do! If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence, God's blood, would not mine kill you! What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming? Oh, that rose has prior claims--Needs its leaden vase filled brimming? Hell dry you up with its flames! At the meal we sit together: _Salve tibi!_ I must hear Wise talk of the kind of weather, Sort of season, time of year: _Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt: What's the Latin name for ``parsley''?_ What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout? Whew! We'll have our platter burnished, Laid with care on our own shelf! With a fire-new spoon we're furnished, And a goblet for ourself, Rinsed like something sacrificial Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps--Marked with L. for our initial! (He-he! There his lily snaps!) _Saint_, forsooth! While brown Dolores Squats outside the Convent bank With Sanchicha, telling stories, Steeping tresses in the tank, Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs, ---Can't I see his dead eye glow, Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's? (That is, if he'd let it show!) When he finishes refection, Knife and fork he never lays Cross-wise, to my recollection, As do I, in Jesu's praise. I the Trinity illustrate, Drinking watered orange-pulp--V. IV. III. II.

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In three sips the Arian frustrate; While he drains his at one gulp. Oh, those melons? If he's able We're to have a feast! so nice! One goes to the Abbot's table, All of us get each a slice. How go on your flowers? None double Not one fruit-sort can you spy? Strange!---And I, too, at such trouble, Keep them close-nipped on the sly! There's a great text in Galatians, Once you trip on it, entails Twenty-nine distinct damnations, One sure, if another fails: If I trip him just a-dying, Sure of heaven as sure can be, Spin him round and send him flying Off to hell, a Manichee? Or, my scrofulous French novel On grey paper with blunt type! Simply glance at it, you grovel Hand and foot in Belial's gripe: If I double down its pages At the woeful sixteenth print, When he gathers his greengages, Ope a sieve and slip it in't? Or, there's Satan!---one might venture Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave Such a flaw in the indenture As he'd miss till, past retrieve, Blasted lay that rose-acacia We're so proud of! _Hy, Zy, Hine ..._ 'St, there's Vespers! _Plena grati Ave, Virgo!_ Gr-r-r---you swine! Robert Browning IX. VIII. VII. VI.

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Song I. Nay but you, who do not love her, Is she not pure gold, my mistress? Holds earth aught---speak truth---above her? Aught like this tress, see, and this tress, And this last fairest tress of all, So fair, see, ere I let it fall? Because, you spend your lives in praising; To praise, you search the wide world over: Then why not witness, calmly gazing, If earth holds aught---speak truth---above her? Above this tress, and this, I touch But cannot praise, I love so much! Robert Browning II.

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Song from 'Paracelsus' HEAP cassia, sandal-buds and stripes Of labdanum, and aloe-balls, Smear'd with dull nard an Indian wipes From out her hair: such balsam falls Down sea-side mountain pedestals, From tree-tops where tired winds are fain, Spent with the vast and howling main, To treasure half their island-gain. And strew faint sweetness from some old Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud Which breaks to dust when once unroll'd; Or shredded perfume, like a cloud From closet long to quiet vow'd, With moth'd and dropping arras hung, Mouldering her lute and books among, As when a queen, long dead, was young. Robert Browning

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Summum Bonum All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee: All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem: In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea: Breath and bloom, shade and shine, wonder, wealth, and--how far above them-Truth, that's brighter than gem, Trust, that's purer than pearl,-Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe--all were for me In the kiss of one girl Robert Browning

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310

The Bishop Orders His Tomb Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? Nephews - sons mine . . . ah God, I know not! Well-She, men would have to be your mother once, Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! What's done is done, and she is dead beside, Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since, And as she died so must we die ourselves, And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream. Life, how and what is it? As here I lie In this state-chamber, dying by degrees, Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask "Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all. Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: --Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care; Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, And up into the aery dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk: And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse. --Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone, Put me where I may look at him! True peach, Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! Draw close: that conflagration of my church --What then? So much was saved if aught were missed! My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood, Drop water gently till the surface sink, And if ye find . . . Ah God, I know not, I! ... Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft, And corded up in a tight olive-frail, Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast ... Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, That brave Frascati villa with its bath, So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, Like God the Father's globe on both His hands Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay, For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?

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Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black-'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, And Moses with the tables . . . but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve. My bath must needs be left behind, alas! One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut, There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world-And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts, And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs? --That's if ye carve my epitaph aright, Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line-Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need! And then how I shall lie through centuries, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, Dying in state and by such slow degrees, I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook, And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point, And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work: And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, About the life before I lived this life, And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests, Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes, And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet, --Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best! Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage. All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,

312

They glitter like your mother's for my soul, Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze, Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term, And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down, To comfort me on my entablature Whereon I am to lie till I must ask "Do I live, am I dead?" There, leave me, there! For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude To death--ye wish it--God, ye wish it! Stone-Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which sweat As if the corpse they keep were oozing through-And no more lapis to delight the world! Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there, But in a row: and, going, turn your backs --Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, And leave me in my church, the church for peace, That I may watch at leisure if he leers-Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone, As still he envied me, so fair she was! Robert Browning

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313

The Bishop Orders His Tomb At Saint Praxed's Church Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? Nephews -- sons mine -- ah God, I know not! Well -She, men would have to be your mother once, Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! What's done is done, and she is dead beside, Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since, And as she died so must we die ourselves, And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream. Life, how and what is it? As here I lie In this state-chamber, dying by degrees, Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask "Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all. Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: -- Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care; Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, And up into the very dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk: And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe As fresh poured red wine of a mighty pulse -- Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone, Put me where I may look at him! True peach, Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! Draw close: that conflagration of my church -- What then? So much was saved if aught were missed! My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood, Drop water gently till the surface sink, And if ye find -- Ah God, I know not, I! -Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft, And corded up in a tight olive-frail, Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, That brave Frascati villa with its bath, So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, Like God the Father's globe on both his hands Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay, For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?

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314

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Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black -'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me. Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, And Moses with the tables -- but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me -- all of jasper, then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve. My bath must needs be left behind, alas! One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut, There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world -And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts, And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs? -- That's if ye carve my epitaph aright, Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line -Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need! And then how I shall lie through centuries, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, Dying in state and by such slow degrees, I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook, And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point, And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop Into great laps and folds of sculptor's work: And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, About the life before I lived this life, And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests, Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes, And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet, -- Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best! Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage. All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,

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They glitter like your mother's for my soul, Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze, Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase With grapes, and add a visor and a Term, And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down, To comfort me on my entablature Whereon I am to lie till I must ask "Do I live, am I dead?" There, leave me, there! For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude To death -- ye wish it -- God, ye wish it! Stone -Gritstone, a crumble! Clammy squares which sweat As if the corpse they keep were oozing through -And no more lapis to delight the world! Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there, But in a row: and, going, turn your backs -- Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, And leave me in my church, the church for peace, That I may watch at leisure if he leers -Old Gandolf -- at me, from his onion-stone, As still he envied me, so fair she was! Robert Browning

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316

The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Ssaint Praxed's Church, Rome Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? Nephews--sons mine . . . ah God, I know not! Well-She, men would have to be your mother once, Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! What's done is done, and she is dead beside, Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since, And as she died so must we die ourselves, And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream. Life, how and what is it? As here I lie In this state-chamber, dying by degrees, Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask Do I live, am I dead?' Peace, peace seems all. Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: --Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care; Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, And up into the aery dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse. --Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone, Put me where I may look at him! True peach, Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! Draw close: that conflagration of my church --What then? So much was saved if aught were missed! My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood, Drop water gently till the surface sink, And if ye find . . . Ah God, I know not, I! ... Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft, And corded up in a tight olive-frail, Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast ... Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, That brave Frascati villa with its bath, So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, Like God the Father's globe on both His hands Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay, For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?

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317

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Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black-'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, And Moses with the tables . . . but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve. My bath must needs be left behind, alas! One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut, There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world-And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts, And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs? --That's if ye carve my epitaph aright, Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line-Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need! And then how I shall lie through centuries, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! For as I lie here, hours of the dead night, Dying in state and by such slow degrees, I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook, And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point, And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work: And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts Grow, with a certain humming in my ears, About the life before I lived this life, And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests, Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount, Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes, And new-found agate urns as fresh as day, And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet, --Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend? No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best! Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage. All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart? Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick, They glitter like your mother's for my soul,

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Robert Browning

Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze, Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term, And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down, To comfort me on my entablature Whereon I am to lie till I must ask 'Do I live, am I dead?' There, leave me, there! For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude To death--ye wish it--God, ye wish it! Stone-Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which sweat As if the corpse they keep were oozing through-And no more lapis to delight the world! Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there, But in a row: and, going, turn your backs --Ay, like departing altar-ministrants, And leave me in my church, the church for peace, That I may watch at leisure if he leers-Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone, As still he envied me, so fair she was!

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The Boy And the Angel Morning, evening, noon and night, ``Praise God!; sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned, Whereby the daily meal was earned. Hard he laboured, long and well; O'er his work the boy's curls fell.

But ever, at each period, He stopped and sang, ``Praise God!'' Then back again his curls he threw, And cheerful turned to work anew.

Said Blaise, the listening monk, ``Well done; ``I doubt not thou art heard, my son: ``As well as if thy voice to-day ``Were praising God, the Pope's great way. ``This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome ``Praises God from Peter's dome.''

Said Theocrite, ``Would God that I ``Might praise him, that great way, and die!'' Night passed, day shone, And Theocrite was gone.

With God a day endures alway, A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, ``Nor day nor night ``Now brings the voice of my delight.'' Then Gabriel, like a rainbow's birth, Spread his wings and sank to earth;

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell, Lived there, and played the craftsman well; And morning, evening, noon and night, Praised God in place of Theocrite. And from a boy, to youth he grew: The man put off the stripling's hue: The man matured and fell away Into the season of decay:
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And ever o'er the trade he bent,

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And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God's will; to him, all one If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, ``A praise is in mine ear; ``There is no doubt in it, no fear:

``So sing old worlds, and so ``New worlds that from my footstool go. ``Clearer loves sound other ways: ``I miss my little human praise.''

Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell The flesh disguise, remained the cell. 'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome, And paused above Saint Peter's dome. In the tiring-room close by The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight, Stood the new Pope, Theocrite: And all his past career Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade, Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near, An angel in a dream brought cheer: And rising from the sickness drear He grew a priest, and now stood here. To the East with praise he turned, And on his sight the angel burned.

``I bore thee from thy craftsman's cell ``And set thee here; I did not well. ``Vainly I left my angel-sphere, ``Vain was thy dream of many a year.

``Thy voice's praise seemed weak; it dropped--``Creation's chorus stopped! ``Go back and praise again ``The early way, while I remain.

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``With that weak voice of our disdain, ``Take up creation's pausing strain.

``Back to the cell and poor employ: ``Resume the craftsman and the boy!'' Theocrite grew old at home; A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome. One vanished as the other died: They sought God side by side. Robert Browning

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The Confessional I. It is a lie---their Priests, their Pope, Their Saints, their ... all they fear or hope Are lies, and lies---there! through my door And ceiling, there! and walls and floor, There, lies, they lie---shall still be hurled Till spite of them I reach the world! You think Priests just and holy men! Before they put me in this den I was a human creature too, With flesh and blood like one of you, A girl that laughed in beauty's pride Like lilies in your world outside. I had a lover---shame avaunt! This poor wrenched body, grim and gaunt, Was kissed all over till it burned, By lips the truest, love e'er turned His heart's own tint: one night they kissed My soul out in a burning mist. So, next day when the accustomed train Of things grew round my sense again, ``That is a sin,'' I said: and slow With downcast eyes to church I go, And pass to the confession-chair, And tell the old mild father there. But when I falter Beltran's name, ``Ha?'' quoth the father; ``much I blame ``The sin; yet wherefore idly grieve? ``Despair not---strenuously retrieve! ``Nay, I will turn this love of thine ``To lawful love, almost divine; ``For he is young, and led astray, ``This Beltran, and he schemes, men say, ``To change the laws of church and state ``So, thine shall be an angel's fate, ``Who, ere the thunder breaks, should roll VI. V. IV. III. II.

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``Its cloud away and save his soul. ``For, when he lies upon thy breast, ``Thou mayst demand and be possessed ``Of all his plans, and next day steal ``To me, and all those plans reveal, ``That I and every priest, to purge ``His soul, may fast and use the scourge.'' That father's beard was long and white, With love and truth his brow seemed bright; I went back, all on fire with joy, And, that same evening, bade the boy Tell me, as lovers should, heart-free, Something to prove his love of me. He told me what he would not tell For hope of heaven or fear of hell; And I lay listening in such pride! And, soon as he had left my side, Tripped to the church by morning-light To save his soul in his despite. I told the father all his schemes, Who were his comrades, what their dreams; ``And now make haste,'' I said, ``to pray ``The one spot from his soul away; ``To-night he comes, but not the same ``Will look!'' At night he never came. Nor next night: on the after-morn, I went forth with a strength new-born. The church was empty; something drew My steps into the street; I knew It led me to the market-place: Where, lo, on high, the father's face! That horrible black scaffold dressed, That stapled block ... God sink the rest! That head strapped back, that blinding vest, XII. XI. X. IX. VIII. VII.

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Those knotted hands and naked breast, Till near one busy hangman pressed, And, on the neck these arms caressed ... No part in aught they hope or fear! No heaven with them, no hell!---and here, No earth, not so much space as pens My body in their worst of dens But shall bear God and man my cry, Lies---lies, again---and still, they lie! Robert Browning XIII.

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The Dtatue And The Bust There's a palace in Florence, the world knows well, And a statue watches it from the square, And this story of both do our townsmen tell. Ages ago, a lady there, At the farthest window facing the East Asked, ``Who rides by with the royal air?''

The bridesmaids' prattle around her ceased; She leaned forth, one on either hand; They saw how the blush of the bride increased--They felt by its beats her heart expand--As one at each ear and both in a breath Whispered, ``The Great-Duke Ferdinand.'' That self-same instant, underneath, The Duke rode past in his idle way, Empty and fine like a swordless sheath.

Gay he rode, with a friend as gay, Till he threw his head back---``Who is she?'' ---``A bride the Riccardi brings home to-day.'' Hair in heaps lay heavily Over a pale brow spirit-pure--Carved like the heart of a coal-black tree,

Crisped like a war-steed's encolure<*1>--And vainly sought to dissemble her eyes Of the blackest black our eyes endure.

And lo, a blade for a knight's emprise Filled the fine empty sheath of a man,--The Duke grew straightway brave and wise. He looked at her, as a lover can; She looked at him, as one who awakes: The past was a sleep, and her life began.

Now, love so ordered for both their sakes, A feast was held that selfsame night In the pile which the mighty shadow makes. (For Via Larga is three-parts light, But the palace overshadows one, Because of a crime which may God requite! To Florence and God the wrong was done, Through the first republic's murder there By Cosimo and his cursed son.)
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The Duke (with the statue's face in the square) Turned in the midst of his multitude At the bright approach of the bridal pair.

Face to face the lovers stood A single minute and no more, While the bridegroom bent as a man subdued--Bowed till his bonnet brushed the floor--For the Duke on the lady a kiss conferred, As the courtly custom was of yore. In a minute can lovers exchange a word? If a word did pass, which I do not think, Only one out of the thousand heard. That was the bridegroom. At day's brink He and his bride were alone at last In a bedchamber by a taper's blink.

Calmly he said that her lot was cast, That the door she had passed was shut on her Till the final catafalk<*2> repassed. The world meanwhile, its noise and stir, Through a certain window facing the East, She could watch like a convent's chronicler.

Since passing the door might lead to a feast, And a feast might lead to so much beside, He, of many evils, chose the least.

``Freely I choose too,'' said the bride--``Your window and its world suffice,'' Replied the tongue, while the heart replied--``If I spend the night with that devil twice, ``May his window serve as my loop of hell ``Whence a damned soul looks on paradise! ``I fly to the Duke who loves me well, ``Sit by his side and laugh at sorrow ``Ere I count another ave-bell.

``'Tis only the coat of a page to borrow, ``And tie my hair in a horse-boy's trim, ``And I save my soul---but not to-morrow''--(She checked herself and her eye grew dim) ``My father tarries to bless my state: ``I must keep it one day more for him.
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``Is one day more so long to wait? ``Moreover the Duke rides past, I know; ``We shall see each other, sure as fate.''

She turned on her side and slept. Just so! So we resolve on a thing and sleep: So did the lady, ages ago.

That night the Duke said, ``Dear or cheap ``As the cost of this cup of bliss may prove ``To body or soul, I will drain it deep.'' And on the morrow, bold with love, He beckoned the bridegroom (close on call, As his duty bade, by the Duke's alcove) And smiled ``'Twas a very funeral, ``Your lady will think, this feast of ours,--``A shame to efface, whate'er befall!

``What if we break from the Arno bowers, ``And try if Petraja, cool and green, ``Cure last night's fault with this morning's flowers?'' The bridegroom, not a thought to be seen On his steady brow and quiet mouth, Said, ``Too much favour for me so mean!

``But, alas! my lady leaves the South; ``Each wind that comes from the Apennine ``Is a menace to her tender youth: ``Nor a way exists, the wise opine, ``If she quits her palace twice this year, ``To avert the flower of life's decline.''

Quoth the Duke, ``A sage and a kindly fear. ``Moreover Petraja is cold this spring: ``Be our feast to-night as usual here!''

And then to himself---``Which night shall bring Thy bride to her lover's embraces, fool--Or I am the fool, and thou art the king!

``Yet my passion must wait a night, nor cool--``For to-night the Envoy arrives from France ``Whose heart I unlock with thyself, my tool. ``I need thee still and might miss perchance. ``To-day is not wholly lost, beside, ``With its hope of my lady's countenance:
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``For I ride---what should I do but ride? ``And passing her palace, if I list, ``May glance at its window---well betide!''

So said, so done: nor the lady missed One ray that broke from the ardent brow, Nor a curl of the lips where the spirit kissed. Be sure that each renewed the vow, No morrow's sun should arise---and set And leave them then as it left them now.

But next day passed, and next day yet, With still fresh cause to wait one day more Ere each leaped over the parapet. And still, as love's brief morning wore, With a gentle start, half smile, half sigh, They found love not as it seemed before.

They thought it would work infallibly, But not in despite of heaven and earth: The rose would blow when the storm passed by. Meantime they could profit in winter's dearth By store of fruits that supplant the rose: The world and its ways have a certain worth: And to press a point while these oppose Were simple policy; better wait: We lose no friends and we gain no foes.

Meantime, worse fates than a lover's fate, Who daily may ride and pass and look Where his lady watches behind the grate!

And she---she watched the square like a book holding one picture and only one, Which daily to find she undertook:

When the picture was reached the book was done, And she turned from the picture at night to scheme Of tearing it out for herself next sun. So weeks grew months, years; gleam by gleam The glory dropped from their youth and love, And both perceived they had dreamed a dream; Which hovered as dreams do, still above: But who can take a dream for a truth? Oh, hide our eyes from the next remove!
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One day as the lady saw her youth Depart, and the silver thread that streaked Her hair, and, worn by the serpent's tooth,

The brow so puckered, the chin so peaked,--And wondered who the woman was, Hollow-eyed and haggard-cheeked, Fronting her silent in the glass--``Summon here,'' she suddenly said, ``Before the rest of my old self pass,

``Him, the Carver, a hand to aid, ``Who fashions the clay no love will change, ``And fixes a beauty never to fade. ``Let Robbia's craft so apt and strange ``Arrest the remains of young and fair, ``And rivet them while the seasons range. ``Make me a face on the window there, ``Waiting as ever, mute the while, ``My love to pass below in the square!

``And let me think that it may beguile ``Dreary days which the dead must spend ``Down in their darkness under the aisle,

``To say, `What matters it at the end? `` `I did no more while my heart was warm `` `Than does that image, my pale-faced friend.' ``Where is the use of the lip's red charm, ``The heaven of hair, the pride of the brow, ``And the blood that blues the inside arm--``Unless we turn as the soul knows how, ``The earthly gift to an end divine? ``A lady of clay is as good, I trow.''

But long ere Robbia's cornice, fine, With flowers and fruits which leaves enlace, Was set where now is the empty shrine--(And, leaning out of a bright blue space, As a ghost might lean from a chink of sky, The passionate pale lady's face---

Eyeing ever, with earnest eye And quick-turned neck at its breathless stretch, Some one who ever is passing by---)
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The Duke had sighed like the simplest wretch In Florence, ``Youth---my dream escapes! Will its record stay?'' And he bade them fetch Some subtle moulder of brazen shapes--``Can the soul, the will, die out of a man ``Ere his body find the grave that gapes?

``John of Douay<*3> shall effect my plan, ``Set me on horseback here aloft, ``Alive, as the crafty sculptor can,

``In the very square I have crossed so oft: ``That men may admire, when future suns ``Shall touch the eyes to a purpose soft,

``While the mouth and the brow stay brave in bronze--``Admire and say, `When he was alive `` `How he would take his pleasure once!' ``And it shall go hard but I contrive ``To listen the while, and laugh in my tomb ``At idleness which aspires to strive.'' So! While these wait the trump of doom, How do their spirits pass, I wonder, Nights and days in the narrow room? Still, I suppose, they sit and ponder What a gift life was, ages ago, Six steps out of the chapel yonder. Only they see not God, I know, Nor all that chivalry of his, The soldier-saints who, row on row, ------------

Burn upward each to his point of bliss--Since, the end of life being manifest, He had burned his way thro' the world to this.

I hear you reproach, ``But delay was best, For their end was a crime.''---Oh, a crime will do As well, I reply, to serve for a test, As a virtue golden through and through, Sufficient to vindicate itself And prove its worth at a moment's view!

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Must a game be played for the sale of pelf? Where a button goes, 'twere an epigram

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To offer the stamp of the very Guelph.

The true has no value beyond the sham: As well the counter as coin, I submit, When your table's a hat, and your prize a dram. Stake your counter as boldly every whit, Venture as warily, use the same skill, Do your best, whether winning or losing it, If you choose to play!---is my principle. Let a man contend to the uttermost For his life's set prize, be it what it will!

The counter our lovers staked was lost As surely as if it were lawful coin: And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost Is---the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin, Though the end in sight was a vice, I say. You of the virtue (we issue join) How strive you? _De te, fabula!_ *1 Neck and shoulder of a horse.

*2 The stage or scaffolding for a coffin whilst *2 in the church. *3 Giovanni of Bologna, a sculptor. Robert Browning

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The Englishman In Italy PIANO DI SORRENTO Fort, Fort, my beloved one, Sit here by my side, On my knees put up both little feet! I was sure, if I tried, I could make you laugh spite of Scirocco. Now, open your eyes, Let me keep you amused till he vanish In black from the skies, With telling my memories over As you tell your beads; All the Plain saw me gather, I garland ---The flowers or the weeds.

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Time for rain! for your long hot dry Autumn Had net-worked with brown The white skin of each grape on the bunches, Marked like a quail's crown, Those creatures you make such account of, Whose heads,---speckled white Over brown like a great spider's back, As I told you last night,--Your mother bites off for her supper. Red-ripe as could be, Pomegranates were chapping and splitting In halves on the tree: And betwixt the loose walls of great flint-stone, Or in the thick dust On the path, or straight out of the rock-side, Wherever could thrust Some burnt sprig of bold hardy rock-flower Its yellow face up, For the prize were great butterflies fighting, Some five for one cup. So, I guessed, ere I got up this morning, What change was in store, By the quick rustle-down of the quail-nets Which woke me before I could open my shutter, made fast With a bough and a stone, And look thro' the twisted dead vine-twigs, Sole lattice that's known. Quick and sharp rang the rings down the net-poles, While, busy beneath, Your priest and his brother tugged at them, The rain in their teeth. And out upon all the flat house-roofs Where split figs lay drying, The girls took the frails under cover: Nor use seemed in trying To get out the boats and go fishing,

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For, under the cliff, Fierce the black water frothed o'er the blind-rock. No seeing our skiff Arrive about noon from Amalfi, ---Our fisher arrive And pitch down his basket before us, All trembling alive With pink and grey jellies, your sea-fruit; You touch the strange lumps, And mouths gape there, eyes open, all manner Of horns and of humps, Which only the fisher looks grave at, While round him like imps Cling screaming the children as naked And brown as his shrimps; Himself too as bare to the middle ---You see round his neck The string and its brass coin suspended, That saves him from wreck. But to-day not a bout reached Salerno, So back, to a man, Came our friends, with whose help in the vineyards Grape-harvest began. In the vat, halfway up in our house-side, Like blood the juice spins, While your brother all bare-legged is dancing Till breathless he grins Dead-beaten in effort on effort To keep the grapes under, Since still when he seems all but master, In pours the fresh plunder From girls who keep coming and going With basket on shoulder, And eyes shut against the rain's driving; Your girls that are older,--For under the hedges of aloe, And where, on its bed Of the orchard's black mould, the love-apple Lies pulpy and red, All the young ones are kneeling and filling Their laps with the snails Tempted out by this first rainy weather,--Your best of regales, As to-night will be proved to my sorrow, When, supping in state, We shall feast our grape-gleaners (two dozen, Three over one plate) With lasagne so tempting to swallow In slippery ropes, And gourds fried in great purple slices, That colour of popes. Meantime, see the grape bunch they've brought you:

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The rain-water slips O'er the heavy blue bloom on each globe Which the wasp to your lips Still follows with fretful persistence: Nay, taste, while awake, This half of a curd-white smooth cheese-ball That peels, flake by flake, Like an onion, each smoother and whiter; Next, sip this weak wine From the thin green glass flask, with its stopper, A leaf of the vine; And end with the prickly-pear's red flesh That leaves thro' its juice The stony black seeds on your pearl-teeth. Scirocco is loose! Hark, the quick, whistling pelt of the olives Which, thick in one's track, Tempt the stranger to pick up and bite them, Tho' not yet half black! How the old twisted olive trunks shudder, The medlars let fall Their hard fruit, and the brittle great fig-trees Snap off, figs and all, For here comes the whole of the tempest! No refuge, but creep Back again to my side and my shoulder, And listen or sleep. O how will your country show next week, When all the vine-boughs Have been stripped of their foliage to pasture The mules and the cows? Last eve, I rode over the mountains; Your brother, my guide, Soon left me, to feast on the myrtles That offered, each side, Their fruit-balls, black, glossy and luscious,--Or strip from the sorbs A treasure, or, rosy and wondrous, Those hairy gold orbs! But my mule picked his sure sober path out, Just stopping to neigh When he recognized down in the valley His mates on their way With the faggots and barrels of water; And soon we emerged From the plain, where the woods could scarce follow; And still as we urged Our way, the woods wondered, and left us, As up still we trudged Though the wild path grew wilder each instant, And place was e'en grudged 'Mid the rock-chasms and piles of loose stones

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Like the loose broken teeth Of some monster which climbed there to die From the ocean beneath--Place was grudged to the silver-grey fume-weed That clung to the path, And dark rosemary ever a-dying That, 'spite the wind's wrath, So loves the salt rock's face to seaward, And lentisks*1 as staunch To the stone where they root and bear berries, And ... what shows a branch Coral-coloured, transparent, with circlets Of pale seagreen leaves; Over all trod my mule with the caution Of gleaners o'er sheaves, Still, foot after foot like a lady, Till, round after round, He climbed to the top of Calvano, And God's own profound Was above me, and round me the mountains, And under, the sea, And within me my heart to bear witness What was and shall be. Oh, heaven and the terrible crystal! No rampart excludes Your eye from the life to be lived In the blue solitudes. Oh, those mountains, their infinite movement! Still moving with you; For, ever some new head and breast of them Thrusts into view To observe the intruder; you see it If quickly you turn And before they escape you surprise them. They grudge you should learn How the soft plains they look on, lean over And love (they pretend) ---Cower beneath them, the flat sea-pine crouches, The wild fruit-trees bend, E'en the myrtle-leaves curl, shrink and shut: All is silent and grave: 'Tis a sensual and timorous beauty, How fair! but a slave. So, I turned to the sea; and there slumbered As greenly as ever Those isles of the siren, your Galli; No ages can sever The Three, nor enable their sister To join them,---halfway On the voyage, she looked at Ulysses--No farther to-day, Tho' the small one, just launched in the wave,

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Watches breast-high and steady From under the rock, her bold sister Swum halfway already. Fort, shall we sail there together And see from the sides Quite new rocks show their faces, new haunts Where the siren abides? Shall we sail round and round them, close over The rocks, tho' unseen, That ruffle the grey glassy water To glorious green? Then scramble from splinter to splinter, Reach land and explore, On the largest, the strange square black turret With never a door, Just a loop to admit the quick lizards; Then, stand there and hear The birds' quiet singing, that tells us What life is, so clear? ---The secret they sang to Ulysses When, ages ago, He heard and he knew this life's secret I hear and I know. Ah, see! The sun breaks o'er Calvano; He strikes the great gloom And flutters it o'er the mount's summit In airy gold fume. All is over. Look out, see the gipsy, Our tinker and smith, Has arrived, set up bellows and forge, And down-squatted forthwith To his hammering, under the wall there; One eye keeps aloof The urchins that itch to be putting His jews'-harps to proof, While the other, thro' locks of curled wire, Is watching how sleek Shines the hog, come to share in the windfall ---Chew, abbot's own cheek! All is over. Wake up and come out now, And down let us go, And see the fine things got in order At church for the show Of the Sacrament, set forth this evening. To-morrow's the Feast Of the Rosary's Virgin, by no means Of Virgins the least, As you'll hear in the off-hand discourse Which (all nature, no art) The Dominican brother, these three weeks, Was getting by heart.

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Not a pillar nor post but is dizened With red and blue papers; All the roof waves with ribbons, each altar A-blaze with long tapers; But the great masterpiece is the scaffold Rigged glorious to hold All the fiddlers and fifers and drummers And trumpeters bold, Not afraid of Bellini nor Auber, Who, when the priest's hoarse, Will strike us up something that's brisk For the feast's second course. And then will the flaxen-wigged Image Be carried in pomp Thro' the plain, while in gallant procession The priests mean to stomp. All round the glad church lie old bottles With gunpowder stopped, Which will be, when the Image re-enters, Religiously popped; And at night from the crest of Calvano Great bonfires will hang, On the plain will the trumpets join chorus, And more poppers bang. At all events, come---to the garden As far as the wall; See me tap with a hoe on the plaster Till out there shall fall A scorpion with wide angry nippers!

---``Such trifles!'' you say? Fort, in my England at home, Men meet gravely to-day And debate, if abolishing Corn-laws Be righteous and wise ---If 'twere proper, Scirocco should vanish In black from the skies! *1 The mastic tree (resinous). Robert Browning

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The Flight Of The Duchess I. You're my friend: I was the man the Duke spoke to; I helped the Duchess to cast off his yoke, too; So here's the tale from beginning to end, My friend! Ours is a great wild country: If you climb to our castle's top, I don't see where your eye can stop; For when you've passed the cornfield country, Where vineyards leave off, flocks are packed, And sheep-range leads to cattle-tract, And cattle-tract to open-chase, And open-chase to the very base Of the mountain where, at a funeral pace, Round about, solemn and slow, One by one, row after row, Up and up the pine-trees go, So, like black priests up, and so Down the other side again To another greater, wilder country, That's one vast red drear burnt-up plain, Branched through and through with many a vein Whence iron's dug, and copper's dealt; Look right, look left, look straight before,--Beneath they mine, above they smelt, Copper-ore and iron-ore, And forge and furnace mould and melt, And so on, more and ever more, Till at the last, for a bounding belt, Comes the salt sand hoar of the great sea-shore, ---And the whole is our Duke's country. I was born the day this present Duke was--(And O, says the song, ere I was old!) In the castle where the other Duke was--(When I was happy and young, not old!) I in the kennel, he in the bower: We are of like age to an hour. My father was huntsman in that day; Who has not heard my father say That, when a boar was brought to bay, Three times, four times out of five, With his huntspear he'd contrive To get the killing-place transfixed, And pin him true, both eyes betwixt? III. II.

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And that's why the old Duke would rather He lost a salt-pit than my father, And loved to have him ever in call; That's why my father stood in the hall When the old Duke brought his infant out To show the people, and while they passed The wondrous bantling round about, Was first to start at the outside blast As the Kaiser's courier blew his horn Just a month after the babe was born. ``And,'' quoth the Kaiser's courier, ``since ``The Duke has got an heir, our Prince ``Needs the Duke's self at his side: '' The Duke looked down and seemed to wince, But he thought of wars o'er the world wide, Castles a-fire, men on their march, The toppling tower, the crashing arch; And up he looked, and awhile he eyed The row of crests and shields and banners Of all achievements after all manners, And ``ay,'' said the Duke with a surly pride. The more was his comfort when he died At next year's end, in a velvet suit, With a gilt glove on his hand, his foot In a silken shoe for a leather boot, Petticoated like a herald, In a chamher next to an ante-room, Where he breathed the breath of page and groom, What he called stink, and they, perfume: ---They should have set him on red Berold Mad with pride, like fire to manage! They should have got his cheek fresh tannage Such a day as to-day in the merry sunshine! Had they stuck on his fist a rough-foot merlin! (Hark, the wind's on the heath at its game! Oh for a noble falcon-lanner To flap each broad wing like a banner, And turn in the wind, and dance like flame!) Had they broached a white-beer cask from Berlin ---Or if you incline to prescribe mere wine Put to his lips, when they saw him pine, A cup of our own Moldavia fine, Cotnar for instance, green as May sorrel And ropy with sweet,---we shall not quarrel. So, at home, the sick tall yellow Duchess Was left with the infant in her clutches, She being the daughter of God knows who: And now was the time to revisit her tribe. Abroad and afar they went, the two, IV.

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And let our people rail and gibe At the empty hall and extinguished fire, As loud as we liked, but ever in vain, Till after long years we had our desire, And back came the Duke and his mother again. And he came back the pertest little ape That ever affronted human shape; Full of his travel, struck at himself. You'd say, he despised our bluff old ways? ---Not he! For in Paris they told the elf Our rough North land was the Land of Lays, The one good thing left in evil days; Since the Mid-Age was the Heroic Time, And only in wild nooks like ours Could you taste of it yet as in its prime, And see true castles, with proper towers, Young-hearted women, old-minded men, And manners now as manners were then. So, all that the old Dukes had been, without knowing it, This Duke would fain know he was, without being it; 'Twas not for the joy's self, but the joy of his showing it, Nor for the pride's self, but the pride of our seeing it, He revived all usages thoroughly worn-out, The souls of them fumed-forth, the hearts of them torn-out: And chief in the chase his neck he perilled On a lathy horse, all legs and length, With blood for bone, all speed, no strength; ---They should have set him on red Berold With the red eye slow consuming in fire, And the thin stiff ear like an abbey-spire! Well, such as he was, he must marry, we heard: And out of a convent, at the word, Came the lady, in time of spring. ---Oh, old thoughts they cling, they cling! That day, I know, with a dozen oaths I clad myself in thick hunting-clothes Fit for the chase of urochs or buffle In winter-time when you need to muffle. But the Duke had a mind we should cut a figure, And so we saw the lady arrive: My friend, I have seen a white crane bigger! She was the smallest lady alive, Made in a piece of nature's madness, Too small, almost, for the life and gladness That over-filled her, as some hive Out of the bears' reach on the high trees VI. V.

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Is crowded with its safe merry bees: In truth, she was not hard to please! Up she looked, down she looked, round at the mead, Straight at the castle, that's best indeed To look at from outside the walls: As for us, styled the ``serfs and thralls,'' She as much thanked me as if she had said it, (With her eyes, do you understand?) Because I patted her horse while I led it; And Max, who rode on her other hand, Said, no bird flew past but she inquired What its true name was, nor ever seemed tired--If that was an eagle she saw hover, And the green and grey bird on the field was the plover. When suddenly appeared the Duke: And as down she sprung, the small foot pointed On to my hand,---as with a rebuke, And as if his backbone were not jointed, The Duke stepped rather aside than forward, And welcomed her with his grandest smile; And, mind you, his mother all the while Chilled in the rear, like a wind to Nor'ward; And up, like a weary yawn, with its pullies Went, in a shriek, the rusty portcullis; And, like a glad sky the north-wind sullies, The lady's face stopped its play, As if her first hair had grown grey; For such things must begin some one day. In a day or two she was well again; As who should say, ``You labour in vain! ``This is all a jest against God, who meant ``I should ever be, as I am, content `` And glad in his sight; therefore, glad I will be.'' So, smiling as at first went she. She was active, stirring, all fire--Could not rest, could not tire--To a stone she might have given life! (I myself loved once, in my day) ---For a shepherd's, miner's, huntsman's wife, (I had a wife, I know what I say) Never in all the world such an one! And here was plenty to be done, And she that could do it, great or small, She was to do nothing at all. There was already this man in his post, This in his station, and that in his office, VIII. VII.

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And the Duke's plan admitted a wife, at most, To meet his eye, with the other trophies, Now outside the hall, now in it, To sit thus, stand thus, see and be seen, At the proper place in the proper minute, And die away the life between. And it was amusing enough, each infraction Of rule---(but for after-sadness that came) To hear the consummate self-satisfaction With which the young Duke and the old dame Would let her advise, and criticise, And, being a fool, instruct the wise, And, child-like, parcel out praise or blame: They bore it all in complacent guise, As though an artificer, after contriving A wheel-work image as if it were living, Should find with delight it could motion to strike him! So found the Duke, and his mother like him: The lady hardly got a rebuff--That had not been contemptuous enough, With his cursed smirk, as he nodded applause, And kept off the old mother-cat's claws. So, the little lady grew silent and thin, Paling and ever paling, As the way is with a hid chagrin; And the Duke perceived that she was ailing, And said in his heart, ``'Tis done to spite me, ``But I shall find in my power to right me!'' Don't swear, friend! The old one, many a year, Is in hell, and the Duke's self . . . you shall hear. Well, early in autumn, at first winter-warning, When the stag had to break with his foot, of a morning, A drinking-hole out of the fresh tender ice That covered the pond till the sun, in a trice, Loosening it, let out a ripple of gold, And another and another, and faster and faster, Till, dimpling to blindness, the wide water rolled: Then it so chanced that the Duke our master Asked himself what were the pleasures in season, And found, since the calendar bade him be hearty, He should do the Middle Age no treason In resolving on a hunting-party. Always provided, old books showed the way of it! What meant old poets by their strictures? And when old poets had said their say of it, How taught old painters in their pictures? X. IX.

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We must revert to the proper channels, Workings in tapestry, paintings on panels, And gather up woodcraft's authentic traditions: Here was food for our various ambitions, As on each case, exactly stated--To encourage your dog, now, the properest chirrup, Or best prayer to Saint Hubert on mounting your stirrup--We of the house hold took thought and debated. Blessed was he whose back ached with the jerkin His sire was wont to do forest-work in; Blesseder he who nobly sunk ``ohs'' And ``ahs'' while he tugged on his grand-sire's trunk-hose; What signified hats if they had no rims on, Each slouching before and behind like the scallop, And able to serve at sea for a shallop, Loaded with lacquer and looped with crimson? So that the deer now, to make a short rhyme on't, What with our Venerers, Prickers and Yerderers, Might hope for real hunters at length and not murderers, And oh the Duke's tailor, he had a hot time on't! Now you must know that when the first dizziness Of flap-hats and buff-coats and jack-boots subsided, The Duke put this question, ``The Duke's part provided, ``Had not the Duchess some share in the business?'' For out of the mouth of two or three witnesses Did he establish all fit-or-unfitnesses: And, after much laying of heads together, Somebody's cap got a notable feather By the announcement with proper unction That he had discovered the lady's function; Since ancient authors gave this tenet, ``When horns wind a mort and the deer is at siege, ``Let the dame of the castle prick forth on her jennet, ``And, with water to wash the hands of her liege ``In a clean ewer with a fair toweling, `` Let her preside at the disemboweling.'' Now, my friend, if you had so little religion As to catch a hawk, some falcon-lanner, And thrust her broad wings like a banner Into a coop for a vulgar pigeon; And if day by day and week by week You cut her claws, and sealed her eyes, And clipped her wings, and tied her beak, Would it cause you any great surprise If, when you decided to give her an airing, You found she needed a little preparing? ---I say, should you be such a curmudgeon, If she clung to the perch, as to take it in dudgeon? Yet when the Duke to his lady signified, XI.

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Just a day before, as he judged most dignified, In what a pleasure she was to participate,--And, instead of leaping wide in flashes, Her eyes just lifted their long lashes, As if pressed by fatigue even he could not dissipate, And duly acknowledged the Duke's forethought, But spoke of her health, if her health were worth aught, Of the weight by day and the watch by night, And much wrong now that used to be right, So, thanking him, declined the hunting,--Was conduct ever more affronting? With all the ceremony settled--With the towel ready, and the sewer Polishing up his oldest ewer, And the jennet pitched upon, a piebald, Black-barred, cream-coated and pink eye-balled,--No wonder if the Duke was nettled And when she persisted nevertheless,--Well, I suppose here's the time to confess That there ran half round our lady's chamber A balcony none of the hardest to clamber; And that Jacynth the tire-woman, ready in waiting, Stayed in call outside, what need of relating? And since Jacynth was like a June rose, why, a fervent Adorer of Jacynth of course was your servant; And if she had the habit to peep through the casement, How could I keep at any vast distance? And so, as I say, on the lady's persistence, The Duke, dumb-stricken with amazement, Stood for a while in a sultry smother, And then, with a smile that partook of the awful, Turned her over to his yellow mother To learn what was held decorous and lawful; And the mother smelt blood with a cat-like instinct, As her cheek quick whitened thro' all its quince-tinct. Oh, but the lady heard the whole truth at once! What meant she?--Who was she?---Her duty and station, The wisdom of age and the folly of youth, at once, Its decent regard and its fitting relation--In brief, my friend, set all the devils in hell free And turn them out to carouse in a belfry And treat the priests to a fifty-part canon, And then you may guess how that tongue of hers ran on! Well, somehow or other it ended at last And, licking her whiskers, out she passed; And after her,---making (he hoped) a face Like Emperor Nero or Sultan Saladin, Stalked the Duke's self with the austere grace Of ancient hero or modern paladin, From door to staircase---oh such a solemn Unbending of the vertebral column!
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However, at sunrise our company mustered; And here was the huntsman bidding unkennel, And there 'neath his bonnet the pricker blustered, With feather dank as a bough of wet fennel; For the court-yard walls were filled with fog You might have cut as an axe chops a log--Like so much wool for colour and bulkiness; And out rode the Duke in a perfect sulkiness, Since, before breakfast, a man feels but queasily, And a sinking at the lower abdomen Begins the day with indifferent omen. And lo, as he looked around uneasily, The sun ploughed the fog up and drove it asunder This way and that from the valley under; And, looking through the court-yard arch, Down in the valley, what should meet him But a troop of Gipsies on their march? No doubt with the annual gifts to greet him. Now, in your land, Gipsies reach you, only After reaching all lands beside; North they go, South they go, trooping or lonely, And still, as they travel far and wide, Catch they and keep now a trace here, trace there, That puts you in mind of a place here, a place there. But with us, I believe they rise out of the ground, And nowhere else, I take it, are found With the earth-tint yet so freshly embrowned: Born, no doubt, like insects which breed on The very fruit they are meant to feed on. For the earth---not a use to which they don't turn it, The ore that grows in the mountain's womb, Or the sand in the pits like a honeycomb, They sift and soften it, bake it and burn it--Whether they weld you, for instance, a snaffle With side-bars never a brute can baffle; Or a lock that's a puzzle of wards within wards; Or, if your colt's fore-foot inclines to curve inwards, Horseshoes they hammer which turn on a swivel And won't allow the hoof to shrivel. Then they cast bells like the shell of the winkle That keep a stout heart in the ram with their tinkle; But the sand---they pinch and pound it like otters; Commend me to Gipsy glass-makers and potters! Glasses they'll blow you, crystal-clear, Where just a faint cloud of rose shall appear, As if in pure water you dropped and let die A bruised black-blooded mulberry; XIII.

XII.

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And that other sort, their crowning pride, With long white threads distinct inside, Like the lake-flower's fibrous roots which dangle Loose such a length and never tangle, Where the bold sword-lily cuts the clear waters, And the cup-lily couches with all the white daughters: Such are the works they put their hand to, The uses they turn and twist iron and sand to. And these made the troop, which our Duke saw sally Toward his castle from out of the valley, Men and women, like new-hatched spiders, Come out with the morning to greet our riders. And up they wound till they reached the ditch, Whereat all stopped save one, a witch That I knew, as she hobbled from the group, By her gait directly and her stoop, I, whom Jacynth was used to importune To let that same witch tell us our fortune. The oldest Gipsy then above ground; And, sure as the autumn season came round, She paid us a visit for profit or pastime, And every time, as she swore, for the last time. And presently she was seen to sidle Up to the Duke till she touched his bridle, So that the horse of a sudden reared up As under its nose the old witch peered up With her worn-out eyes, or rather eye-holes Of no use now but to gather brine, And began a kind of level whine Such as they used to sing to their viols When their ditties they go grinding Up and down with nobody minding: And then, as of old, at the end of the humming Her usual presents were forthcoming ---A dog-whistle blowing the fiercest of trebles, (Just a sea-shore stone holding a dozen fine pebbles,) Or a porcelain mouth-piece to screw on a pipe-end,--And so she awaited her annual stipend. But this time, the Duke would scarcely vouchsafe A word in reply; and in vain she felt With twitching fingers at her belt For the purse of sleek pine-martin pelt, Ready to ptlt what he gave in her pouch safe,--Till, either to quicken his apprehension, Or possibly with an after-intention, She was come, she said, to pay her duty To the new Duchess, the youthful beauty. No sooner had she named his lady, Than a shine lit up the face so shady, And its smirk returned with a novel meaning--For it struck him, the babe just wanted weaning; If one gave her a taste of what life was and sorrow,

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She, foolish to-day, would be wiser tomorrow; And who so fit a teacher of trouble As this sordid crone bent well-nigh double? So, glancing at her wolf-skin vesture, (If such it was, for they grow so hirsute That their own fleece serves for natural fur-suit) He was contrasting, 'twas plain from his gesture, The life of the lady so flower-like and delicate With the loathsome squalor of this helicat. I, in brief, was the man the Duke beckoned From out of the throng, and while I drew near He told the crone---as I since have reckoned By the way he bent and spoke into her ear With circumspection and mystery--The main of the lady's history, Her frowardness and ingratitude: And for all the crone's submissive attitude I could see round her mouth the loose plaits tightening, And her brow with assenting intelligence brightening, As though she engaged with hearty good-will Whatever he now might enjoin to fulfil, And promised the lady a thorough frightening. And so, just giving her a glimpse Of a purse, with the air of a man who imps The wing of the hawk that shall fetch the hernshaw, He bade me take the Gipsy mother And set her telling some story or other Of hill or dale, oak-wood or fernshaw, To wile away a weary hour For the lady left alone in her bower, Whose mind and body craved exertion And yet shrank from all better diversion. Then clapping heel to his horse, the mere curveter, Out rode the Duke, and after his hollo Horses and hounds swept, huntsman and servitor, And back I turned and bade the crone follow. And what makes me confident what's to be told you Had all along been of this crone's devising, Is, that, on looking round sharply, behold you, There was a novelty quick as surprising: For first, she had shot up a full head in stature, And her step kept pace with mine nor faltered, As if age had foregone its usurpature, And the ignoble mien was wholly altered, And the face looked quite of another nature, And the change reached too, whatever the change meant, Her shaggy wolf-skin cloak's arrangement: For where its tatters hung loose like sedges, Gold coins were glittering on the edges, XIV.

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Like the band-roll strung with tomans Which proves the veil a Persian woman's. And under her brow, like a snail's horns newly Come out as after the rain he paces, Two unmistakeable eye-points duly Live and aware looked out of their places. So, we went and found Jacynth at the entry Of the lady's chamber standing sentry; I told the command and produced my companion, And Jacynth rejoiced to admit any one, For since last night, by the same token, Not a single word had the lady spoken: They went in both to the presence together, While I in the balcony watched the weather. And now, what took place at the very first of all, I cannot tell, as I never could learn it: Jacynth constantly wished a curse to fall On that little head of hers and burn it If she knew how she came to drop so soundly Asleep of a sudden and there continue The whole time sleeping as profoundly As one of the boars my father would pin you 'Twixt the eyes where life holds garrison, ---Jacynth forgive me the comparison! But where I begin asy own narration Is a little after I took my station To breathe the fresh air from the balcony, And, having in those days a falcon eye, To follow the hunt thro' the open country, From where the bushes thinlier crested The hillocks, to a plain where's not one tree. When, in a moment, my ear was arrested By---was it singing, or was it saying, Or a strange musical instrument playing In the chamber?---and to be certain I pushed the lattice, pulled the curtain, And there lay Jacynth asleep, Yet as if a watch she tried to keep, In a rosy sleep along the floor With her head against the door; While in the midst, on the seat of state, Was a queen---the Gipsy woman late, With head and face downbent On the lady's head and face intent: For, coiled at her feet like a child at ease, The lady sat between her knees And o'er them the lady's clasped hands met, And on those hands her chin was set, And her upturned face met the face of the crone XV.

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Wherein the eyes had grown and grown As if she could double and quadruple At pleasure the play of either pupil ---Very like, by her hands' slow fanning, As up and down like a gor-crow's flappers They moved to measure, or bell-clappers. I said ``Is it blessing, is it banning, ``Do they applaud you or burlesque you--``Those hands and fingers with no flesh on?'' But, just as I thought to spring in to the rescue, At once I was stopped by the lady's expression: For it was life her eyes were drinking From the crone's wide pair above unwinking, ---Life's pure fire received without shrinking, Into the heart and breast whose heaving Told you no single drop they were leaving, ---Life, that filling her, passed redundant Into her very hair, back swerving Over each shoulder, loose and abundant, As her head thrown back showed the white throat curving; And the very tresses shared in the pleasure, Moving to the mystic measure, Bounding as the bosom bounded. I stopped short, more and more confounded, As still her cheeks burned and eyes glistened, As she listened and she listened: When all at once a hand detained me, The selfsame contagion gained me, And I kept time to the wondrous chime, Making out words and prose and rhyme, Till it seemed that the music furled Its wings like a task fulfilled, and dropped From under the words it first had propped, And left them midway in the world: Word took word as hand takes hand, I could hear at last, and understand, And when I held the unbroken thread, The Gipsy said:--``And so at last we find my tribe. ``And so I set thee in the midst, ``And to one and all of them describe ``What thou saidst and what thou didst, ``Our long and terrible journey through, ``And all thou art ready to say and do ``In the trials that remain: ``I trace them the vein and the other vein ``That meet on thy brow and part again, ``Making our rapid mystic mark; ``And I bid my people prove and probe ``Each eye's profound and glorious globe ``Till they detect the kindred spark

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``In those depths so dear and dark, ``Like the spots that snap and burst and flee, ``Circling over the midnight sea. ``And on that round young cheek of thine ``I make them recognize the tinge, ``As when of the costly scarlet wine ``They drip so much as will impinge ``And spread in a thinnest scale afloat ``One thick gold drop from the olive's coat ``Over a silver plate whose sheen ``Still thro' the mixture shall be seen. ``For so I prove thee, to one and all, ``Fit, when my people ope their breast, ``To see the sign, and hear the call, ``And take the vow, and stand the test ``Which adds one more child to the rest--``When the breast is bare and the arms are wide, ``And the world is left outside. ``For there is probation to decree, ``And many and long must the trials be ``Thou shalt victoriously endure, ``If that brow is true and those eyes are sure; ``Like a jewel-finder's fierce assay ``Of the prize he dug from its mountain-tomb--``Let once the vindicating ray ``Leap out amid the anxious gloom, ``And steel and fire have done their part ``And the prize falls on its finder's heart; `'So, trial after trial past, ``Wilt thou fall at the very last ``Breathless, half in trance ``With the thrill of the great deliverance, ``Into our arms for evermore; ``And thou shalt know, those arms once curled ``About thee, what we knew before, ``How love is the only good in the world. ``Henceforth be loved as heart can love, ``Or brain devise, or hand approve! ``Stand up, look below, ``It is our life at thy feet we throw ``To step with into light and joy; ``Not a power of life but we employ ``To satisfy thy nature's want; ``Art thou the tree that props the plant, ``Or the climbing plant that seeks the tree--``Canst thou help us, must we help thee? ``If any two creatures grew into one, ``They would do more than the world has done. ``Though each apart were never so weak, ``Ye vainly through the world should seek ``For the knowledge and the might ``Which in such union grew their right:

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``So, to approach at least that end, ``And blend,---as much as may be, blend ``Thee with us or us with thee,--``As climbing plant or propping tree, ``Shall some one deck thee, over and down, ``Up and about, with blossoms and leaves? ``Fix his heart's fruit for thy garland crown, ``Cling with his soul as the gourd-vine cleaves, ``Die on thy boughs and disappear ``While not a leaf of thine is sere? ``Or is the other fate in store, ``And art thou fitted to adore, ``To give thy wondrous self away, ``And take a stronger nature's sway? ``I foresee and could foretell ``Thy future portion, sure and well: ``But those passionate eyes speak true, speak true, ``Let them say what thou shalt do! ``Only be sure thy daily life, ``In its peace or in its strife, ``Never shall be unobserved: ``We pursue thy whole career, ``And hope for it, or doubt, or fear,--``Lo, hast thou kept thy path or swerved, ``We are beside thee in all thy ways, ``With our blame, with our praise, ``Our shame to feel, our pride to show, ``Glad, angry---but indifferent, no! ``Whether it be thy lot to go, ``For the good of us all, where the haters meet ``In the crowded city's horrible street; ``Or thou step alone through the morass ``Where never sound yet was ``Save the dry quick clap of the stork's bill, ``For the air is still, and the water still, ``When the blue breast of the dipping coot ``Dives under, and all is mute. ``So, at the last shall come old age, ``Decrepit as befits that stage; ``How else wouldst thou retire apart ``With the hoarded memories of thy heart, ``And gather all to the very least ``Of the fragments of life's earlier feast, ``Let fall through eagerness to find ``The crowning dainties yet behind? ``Ponder on the entire past ``Laid together thus at last, ``When the twilight helps to fuse ``The first fresh with the faded hues, ``And the outline of the whole, ``As round eve's shades their framework roll, ``Grandly fronts for once thy soul.

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``And then as, 'mid the dark, a glean ``Of yet another morning breaks, ``And like the hand which ends a dream, ``Death, with the might of his sunbeam, ``Touches the flesh and the soul awakes, ``Then------'' Ay, then indeed something would happen! But what? For here her voice changed like a bird's; There grew more of the music and less of the words; Had Jacynth only been by me to clap pen To paper and put you down every syllable With those clever clerkly fingers, All I've forgotten as well as what lingers In this old brain of mine that's but ill able To give you even this poor version Of the speech I spoil, as it were, with stammering ---More fault of those who had the hammering Of prosody into me and syntax, And did it, not with hobnails but tintacks! But to return from this excursion,--Just, do you mark, when the song was sweetest, The peace most deep and the charm completest, There came, shall I say, a snap--And the charm vanished! And my sense returned, so strangely banished, And, starting as from a nap, I knew the crone was bewitching my lady, With Jacynth asleep; and but one spring made I Down from the casement, round to the portal, Another minute and I had entered,--When the door opened, and more than mortal Stood, with a face where to my mind centred All beauties I ever saw or shall see, The Duchess: I stopped as if struck by palsy. She was so different, happy and beautiful, I felt at once that all was best, And that I had nothing to do, for the rest, But wait her commands, obey and be dutiful. Not that, in fact, there was any commanding; I saw the glory of her eye, And the brow's height and the breast's expanding, And I was hers to live or to die. As for finding what she wanted, You know God Almighty granted Such little signs should serve wild creatures To tell one another all their desires, So that each knows what his friend requires, And does its bidding without teachers. I preceded her; the crone Followed silent and alone; I spoke to her, but she merely jabbered In the old style; both her eyes had slunk

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Back to their pits; her stature shrunk; In short, the soul in its body sunk Like a blade sent home to its scabbard. We descended, I preceding; Crossed the court with nobody heeding, All the world was at the chase, The courtyard like a desert-place, The stable emptied of its small fry; I saddled myself the very palfrey I remember patting while it carried her, The day she arrived and the Duke married her. And, do you know, though it's easy deceiving Oneself in such matters, I can't help believing The lady had not forgotten it either, And knew the poor devil so much beneath her Would have been only too glad for her service To dance on hot ploughshares like a Turk dervise, But, unable to pay proper duty where owing it, Was reduced to that pitiful method of showing it: For though the moment I began setting His saddle on my own nag of Berold's begetting, (Not that I meant to be obtrusive) She stopped me, while his rug was shifting, By a single rapid finger's lifting, And, with a gesture kind but conclusive, And a little shake of the head, refused me,--I say, although she never used me, Yet when she was mounted, the Gipsy behind her, And I ventured to remind her, I suppose with a voice of less steadiness Than usual, for my feeling exceeded me, ---Something to the effect that I was in readiness Whenever God should please she needed me,--Then, do you know, her face looked down on me With a look that placed a crown on me, And she felt in her bosom,---mark, her bosom--And, as a flower-tree drops its blossom, Dropped me . . . ah, had it been a purse Of silver, my friend, or gold that's worse, Why, you see, as soon as I found myself So understood,---that a true heart so may gain Such a reward,---I should have gone home again, Kissed Jacynth, and soberly drowned myself! It was a little plait of hair Such as friends in a convent make To wear, each for the other's sake,--This, see, which at my breast I wear, Ever did (rather to Jacynth's grudgment), And ever shall, till the Day of Judgment. And then,---and then,---to cut short,---this is idle, These are feelings it is not good to foster,--I pushed the gate wide, she shook the bridle,

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And the palfrey bounded,---and so we lost her. When the liquor's out why clink the cannikin? I did think to describe you the panic in The redoubtable breast of our master the mannikin, And what was the pitch of his mother's yellowness, How she turned as a shark to snap the spare-rib Clean off, sailors say, from a pearl-diving Carib, When she heard, what she called the flight of the feloness ---But it seems such child's play, What they said and did with the lady away! And to dance on, when we've lost the music, Always made me---and no doubt makes you---sick. Nay, to my mind, the world's face looked so stern As that sweet form disappeared through the postern, She that kept it in constant good humour, It ought to have stopped; there seemed nothing to do more. But the world thought otherwise and went on, And my head's one that its spite was spent on: Thirty years are fled since that morning, And with them all my head's adorning. Nor did the old Duchess die outright, As you expect, of suppressed spite, The natural end of every adder Not suffered to empty its poison-bladder: But she and her son agreed, I take it, That no one should touch on the story to wake it, For the wound in the Duke's pride rankled fiery, So, they made no search and small inquiry--And when fresh Gipsies have paid us a visit, I've Noticed the couple were never inquisitive, But told them they're folks the Duke don't want here, And bade them make haste and cross the frontier. Brief, the Duchess was gone and the Duke was glad of it, And the old one was in the young one's stead, And took, in her place, the household's head, And a blessed time the household had of it! And were I not, as a man may say, cautious How I trench, more than needs, on the nauseous, I could favour you with sundry touches Of the paint-smutches with which the Duchess Heightened the mellowness of her cheek's yellowness (To get on faster) until at last her Cheek grew to be one master-plaster Of mucus and focus from mere use of ceruse: In short, she grew from scalp to udder Just the object to make you shudder. XVII. XVI.

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You're my friend--What a thing friendship is, world without end! How it gives the heart and soul a stir-up As if somebody broached you a glorious runlet, And poured out, all lovelily, sparklingly, sunlit, Our green Moldavia, the streaky syrup, Cotnar as old as the time of the Druids--Friendship may match with that monarch of fluids; Each supples a dry brain, fills you its ins-and-outs, Gives your life's hour-glass a shake when the thin sand doubts Whether to run on or stop short, and guarantees Age is not all made of stark sloth and arrant ease. I have seen my little lady once more, Jacynth, the Gipsy, Berold, and the rest of it, For to me spoke the Duke, as I told you before; I always wanted to make a clean breast of it: And now it is made---why, my heart's blood, that went trickle, Trickle, but anon, in such muddy driblets, Is pumped up brisk now, through the main ventricle, And genially floats me about the giblets. I'll tell you what I intend to do: I must see this fellow his sad life through--He is our Duke, after all, And I, as he says, but a serf and thrall. My father was born here, and I inherit His fame, a chain he bound his son with; Could I pay in a lump I should prefer it, But there's no mine to blow up and get done with: So, I must stay till the end of the chapter. For, as to our middle-age-manners-adapter, Be it a thing to be glad on or sorry on, Some day or other, his head in a morion And breast in a hauberk, his heels he'll kick up, Slain by an onslaught fierce of hiccup. And then, when red doth the sword of our Duke rust, And its leathern sheath lie o'ergrown with a blue crust, Then I shall scrape together my earnings; For, you see, in the churchyard Jacynth reposes, And our children all went the way of the roses: It's a long lane that knows no turnings. One needs but little tackle to travel in; So, just one stout cloak shall I indue: And for a stall, what beats the javelin With which his boars my father pinned you? And then, for a purpose you shall hear presently, Taking some Cotnar, a tight plump skinful, I shall go journeying, who but I, pleasantly! Sorrow is vain and despondency sinful. What's a man's age? He must hurry more, that's all; Cram in a day, what his youth took a year to hold. When we mind labour, then only, we're too old--What age had Methusalem when he begat Saul?

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And at last, as its haven some buffeted ship sees, (Come all the way from the north-parts with sperm oil) I hope to get safely out of the turmoil And arrive one day at the land of the Gipsies, And find my lady, or hear the last news of her From some old thief and son of Lucifer, His forehead chapleted green with wreathy hop, Sunburned all over like an thiop. And when my Cotnar begins to operate And the tongue of the rogue to run at a proper rate, And our wine-skin, tight once, shows each flaccid dent, I shall drop in with---as if by accident--``You never knew, then, how it all ended, ``What fortune good or bad attended ``The little lady your Queen befriended?'' ---And when that's told me, what's remaining? This world's too hard for my explaining. The same wise judge of matters equine Who still preferred some slim four-year-old To the big-boned stock of mighty Berold, And, fur strong Cotnar, drank French weak wine, He also umst be such a lady's scorner! Smooth Jacob still rubs homely Esau: Now up, now down, the world's one see-saw. ---So, I shall find out some snug corner Under a hedge, like Orson the wood-knight, Turn myself round and bid the world good night; And sleep a sound sleep till the trumpet's blowing Wakes me (unless priests cheat us laymen) To a world where will be no furtiner throwing Pearls befare swine that Can't value them. Amen! Robert Browning

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The Glove PETER RONSARD _loquitur_.) ``Heigho!'' yawned one day King Francis, ``Distance all value enhances! ``When a man's busy, why, leisure ``Strikes him as wonderful pleasure: `` 'Faith, and at leisure once is he? ``Straightway he wants to be busy. ``Here we've got peace; and aghast I'm ``Caught thinking war the true pastime. ``Is there a reason in metre? ``Give us your speech, master Peter!'' I who, if mortal dare say so, Ne'er am at loss with my Naso, ``Sire,'' I replied, ``joys prove cloudlets: ``Men are the merest Ixions''--Here the King whistled aloud, ``Let's ``---Heigho---go look at our lions!'' Such are the sorrowful chances If you talk fine to King Francis.

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And so, to the courtyard proceeding, Our company, Francis was leading, Increased by new followers tenfold Before be arrived at the penfold; Lords, ladies, like clouds which bedizen At sunset the western horizon. And Sir De Lorge pressed 'mid the foremost With the dame he professed to adore most. Oh, what a face! One by fits eyed Her, and the horrible pitside; For the penfold surrounded a hollow Which led where the eye scarce dared follow, And shelved to the chamber secluded Where Bluebeard, the great lion, brooded. The King bailed his keeper, an Arab As glossy and black as a scarab,*1 And bade him make sport and at once stir Up and out of his den the old monster. They opened a hole in the wire-work Across it, and dropped there a firework, And fled: one's heart's beating redoubled; A pause, while the pit's mouth was troubled, The blackness and silence so utter, By the firework's slow sparkling and sputter; Then earth in a sudden contortion Gave out to our gaze her abortion. Such a brute! Were I friend Clement Marot (Whose experience of nature's but narrow, And whose faculties move in no small mist When he versifies David the Psalmist) I should study that brute to describe you

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_Illim Juda Leonem de Tribu_. One's whole blood grew curdling and creepy To see the black mane, vast and heapy, The tail in the air stiff and straining, The wide eyes, nor waxing nor waning, As over the barrier which bounded His platform, and us who surrounded The barrier, they reached and they rested On space that might stand him in best stead: For who knew, he thought, what the amazement, The eruption of clatter and blaze meant, And if, in this minute of wonder, No outlet, 'mid lightning and thunder, Lay broad, and, his shackles all shivered, The lion at last was delivered? Ay, that was the open sky o'erhead! And you saw by the flash on his forehead, By the hope in those eyes wide and steady, He was leagues in the desert already, Driving the flocks up the mountain, Or catlike couched hard by the fountain To waylay the date-gathering negress: So guarded he entrance or egress. ``How he stands!'' quoth the King: ``we may well swear, (``No novice, we've won our spurs elsewhere ``And so can afford the confession,) ``We exercise wholesome discretion ``In keeping aloof from his threshold; ``Once hold you, those jaws want no fresh hold, ``Their first would too pleasantly purloin ``The visitor's brisket or surloin: ``But who's he would prove so fool-hardy? ``Not the best man of Marignan, pardie!'' The sentence no sooner was uttered, Than over the rails a glove flattered, Fell close to the lion, and rested: The dame 'twas, who flung it and jested With life so, De Lorge had been wooing For months past; he sat there pursuing His suit, weighing out with nonchalance Fine speeches like gold from a balance.

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Sound the trumpet, no true knight's a tarrier! De Lorge made one leap at the barrier, Walked straight to the glove,---while the lion Neer moved, kept his far-reaching eye on The palm-tree-edged desert-spring's sapphire, And the musky oiled skin of the Kaffir,--Picked it up, and as calmly retreated, Leaped back where the lady was seated, And full in the face of its owner

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Flung the glove.

``Your heart's queen, you dethrone her? ``So should I!''---cried the King---``'twas mere vanity, ``Not love, set that task to humanity!'' Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing. Not so, I; for I caught an expression In her brow's undisturbed self-possession Amid the Court's scoffing and merriment,--As if from no pleasing experiment She rose, yet of pain not much heedful So long as the process was needful,--As if she had tried in a crucible, To what ``speeches like gold'' were reducible, And, finding the finest prove copper, Felt the smoke in her face was but proper; To know what she had _not_ to trust to, Was worth all the ashes and dust too. She went out 'mid hooting and laughter; Clement Marot stayed; I followed after, And asked, as a grace, what it all meant? If she wished not the rash deed's recalment? ``For I''---so I spoke---``am a poet: ``Human nature,---behoves that I know it!''

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She told me, ``Too long had I heard ``Of the deed proved alone by the word: ``For my love---what De Lorge would not dare! ``With my scorn---what De Lorge could compare! ``And the endless descriptions of death ``He would brave when my lip formed a breath, ``I must reckon as braved, or, of course, ``Doubt his word---and moreover, perforce, ``For such gifts as no lady could spurn, ``Must offer my love in return. ``When I looked on your lion, it brought ``All the dangers at once to my thought, ``Encountered by all sorts of men, ``Before he was lodged in his den,--``From the poor slave whose club or bare hands ``Dug the trap, set the snare on the sands, ``With no King and no Court to applaud, ``By no shame, should he shrink, overawed, ``Yet to capture the creature made shift, ``That his rude boys might laugh at the gift, ``---To the page who last leaped o'er the fence ``Of the pit, on no greater pretence ``Than to get back the bonnet he dropped, ``Lest his pay for a week should be stopped. ``So, wiser I judged it to make

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``One trial what `death for my sake' ``Really meant, while the power was yet mine, ``Than to wait until time should define ``Such a phrase not so simply as I, ``Who took it to mean just `to die.' ``The blow a glove gives is but weak: ``Does the mark yet discolour my cheek? ``But when the heart suffers a blow, ``Will the pain pass so soon, do you know?''

I looked, as away she was sweeping, And saw a youth eagerly keeping As close as he dared to the doorway. No doubt that a noble should more weigh His life than befits a plebeian; And yet, had our brute been Nemean--(I judge by a certain calm fervour The youth stepped with, forward to serve her) ---He'd have scarce thought you did him the worst turn If you whispered ``Friend, what you'd get, first earn!'' And when, shortly after, she carried Her shame from the Court, and they married, To that marriage some happiness, maugre The voice of the Court, I dared augur. For De Lorge, he made women with men vie, Those in wonder and praise, these in envy; And in short stood so plain a head taller That he wooed and won ... how do you call her? The beauty, that rose in the sequel To the King's love, who loved her a week well. And 'twas noticed he never would honour De Lorge (who looked daggers upon her) With the easy commission of stretching His legs in the service, and fetching His wife, from her chamber, those straying Sad gloves she was always mislaying, While the King took the closet to chat in,--But of course this adventure came pat in. And never the King told the story, How bringing a glove brought such glory, But the wife smiled---``His nerves are grown firmer: ``Mine he brings now and utters no murmur.'' _Venienti occurrite morbo!_ With which moral I drop my theorbo. *1 A beetle. Robert Browning
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The Guardian-Angel A PICTURE AT FANO. Dear and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave That child, when thou hast done with him, for me! Let me sit all the day here, that when eve Shall find performed thy special ministry, And time come for departure, thou, suspending Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending, Another still, to quiet and retrieve. Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more, From where thou standest now, to where I gaze, ---And suddenly my head is covered o'er With those wings, white above the child who prays Now on that tomb---and I shall feel thee guarding Me, out of all the world; for me, discarding Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door. I would not look up thither past thy head Because the door opes, like that child, I know, For I should have thy gracious face instead, Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together, And lift them up to pray, and gently tether Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment's spread? If this was ever granted, I would rest My bead beneath thine, while thy healing hands Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast, Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands, Back to its proper size again, and smoothing Distortion down till every nerve had soothing, And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed. How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired! I think how I should view the earth and skies And sea, when once again my brow was bared After thy healing, with such different eyes. O world, as God has made it! All is beauty: And knowing this, is love, and love is duty. What further may be sought for or declared?
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Guercino drew this angel I saw teach (Alfred, dear friend!)---that little child to pray, Holding the little hands up, each to each Pressed gently,---with his own head turned away Over the earth where so much lay before him Of work to do, though heaven was opening o'er him, And he was left at Fano by the beach. We were at Fano, and three times we went To sit and see him in his chapel there, And drink his beauty to our soul's content ---My angel with me too: and since I care For dear Guercino's fame (to which in power And glory comes this picture for a dower, Fraught with a pathos so magnificent)--And since he did not work thus earnestly At all times, and has else endured some wrong--I took one thought his picture struck from me, And spread it out, translating it to song. My love is here. Where are you, dear old friend? How rolls the Wairoa at your world's far end? This is Ancona, yonder is the sea. Robert Browning VIII. VII.

VI.

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The Heretic's Tragedy I. PREADMONISHETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.

The Lord, we look to once for all, Is the Lord we should look at, all at once: He knows not to vary, saith Saint Paul, Nor the shadow of turning, for the nonce. See him no other than as he is! Give both the infinitudes their due--Infinite mercy, but, I wis, As infinite a justice too. [_Organ: plagal-cadence._ As infinite a justice too. II. ONE SINGETH.

John, Master of the Temple of God, Falling to sin the Unknown Sin, What he bought of Emperor Aldabrod, He sold it to Sultan Saladin: Till, caught by Pope Clement, a-buzzing there, Hornet-prince of the mad wasps' hive, And clipt of his wings in Paris square, They bring him now to be burned alive. [_And wanteth there grace of lute or clavicithern, ye shall say to confirm him who singeth---_ We bring John now to be burned alive. In the midst is a goodly gallows built; 'Twixt fork and fork, a stake is stuck; But first they set divers tumbrils a-tilt, Make a trench all round with the city muck; Inside they pile log upon log, good store; Faggots no few, blocks great and small, Reach a man's mid-thigh, no less, no more,--For they mean he should roast in the sight of all. We mean he should roast in the sight of all. IV. CHORUS. III.

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Good sappy bavins<*1> that kindle forthwith; Billets that blaze substantial and slow;

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Pine-stump split deftly, dry as pith; Larch-heart that chars to a chalk-white glow: Then up they hoist me John in a chafe, Sling him fast like a hog to scorch, Spit in his face, then leap back safe, Sing ``Laudes'' and bid clap-to the torch. _Laus Deo_---who bids clap-to the torch. V. CHORUS.

John of the Temple, whose fame so bragged, Is burning alive in Paris square! How can he curse, if his mouth is gagged? Or wriggle his neck, with a collar there? Or heave his chest, which a band goes round? Or threat with his fist, since his arms are spliced? Or kick with his feet, now his legs are bound? ---Thinks John, I will call upon Jesus Christ. [_Here one crosseth himself_ VI.

Jesus Christ---John had bought and sold, Jesus Christ---John had eaten and drunk; To him, the Flesh meant silver and gold. (_Salv reverenti._) Now it was, ``Saviour, bountiful lamb, ``I have roasted thee Turks, though men roast me! ``See thy servant, the plight wherein I am! ``Art thou a saviour? Save thou me!'' 'Tis John the mocker cries, ``Save thou me!'' VII. CHORUS.

Who maketh God's menace an idle word? ---Saith, it no more means what it proclaims, Than a damsel's threat to her wanton bird?--For she too prattles of ugly names. ---Saith, he knoweth but one thing,---what he knows? That God is good and the rest is breath; Why else is the same styled Sharon's rose? Once a rose, ever a rose, he saith.
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O, John shall yet find a rose, he saith! VIII.

CHORUS.

Alack, there be roses and roses, John! Some, honied of taste like your leman's tongue: Some, bitter; for why? (roast gaily on!) Their tree struck root in devil's-dung. When Paul once reasoned of righteousness And of temperance and of judgment to come, Good Felix trembled, he could no less: John, snickering, crook'd his wicked thumb. What cometh to John of the wicked thumb? IX. CHORUS.

Ha ha, John plucketh now at his rose To rid himself of a sorrow at heart! Lo,---petal on petal, fierce rays unclose; Anther on anther, sharp spikes outstart; And with blood for dew, the bosom boils; And a gust of sulphur is all its smell; And lo, he is horribly in the toils Of a coal-black giant flower of hell! What maketh heaven, That maketh hell. X. CHORUS.

So, as John called now, through the fire amain. On the Name, he had cursed with, all his life--To the Person, he bought and sold again--For the Face, with his daily buffets rife--Feature by feature It took its place: And his voice, like a mad dog's choking bark, At the steady whole of the Judge's face--Died. Forth John's soul flared into the dark. God help all poor souls lost in the dark!
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SUBJOINETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.

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*1: Fagots. A MIDDLE-AGE INTERLUDE.

ROSA MUNDI; SEU, FULCITE ME FLORIBUS. A CONCEIT OF MASTER GYSBRECHT, CANON-REGULAR OF SAID JODOCUS-BY-THE-BAR, YPRES CITY. CANTUQUE, _Virgilius._ AND HATH OFTEN BEEN SUNG AT HOCK-TIDE AND FESTIVALES. GAVISUS ERAM, _Jessides._ (It would seem to be a glimpse from the burning of Jacques du Bourg-Mulay, at Paris, A. D. 1314; as distorted by the refraction from Flemish brain to brain, during the course of a couple of centuries.) [Molay was Grand Master of the Templars when that order was suppressed in 1312.] Robert Browning

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The Italian In England That second time they hunted me From hill to plain, from shore to sea, And Austria, hounding far and wide Her blood-hounds thro' the country-side, Breathed hot and instant on my trace,--I made six days a hiding-place Of that dry green old aqueduct Where I and Charles, when boys, have plucked The fire-flies from the roof above, Bright creeping thro' the moss they love: ---How long it seems since Charles was lost! Six days the soldiers crossed and crossed The country in my very sight; And when that peril ceased at night, The sky broke out in red dismay With signal fires; well, there I lay Close covered o'er in my recess, Up to the neck in ferns and cress, Thinking on Metternich our friend, And Charles's miserable end, And much beside, two days; the third, Hunger o'ercame me when I heard The peasants from the village go To work among the maize; you know, With us in Lombardy, they bring Provisions packed on mules, a string With little bells that cheer their task, And casks, and boughs on every cask To keep the sun's heat from the wine; These I let pass in jingling line, And, close on them, dear noisy crew, The peasants from the village, too; For at the very rear would troop Their wives and sisters in a group To help, I knew. When these had passed, I threw my glove to strike the last, Taking the chance: she did not start, Much less cry out, but stooped apart, One instant rapidly glanced round, And saw me beckon from the ground. A wild bush grows and hides my crypt; She picked my glove up while she stripped A branch off, then rejoined the rest With that; my glove lay in her breast. Then I drew breath; they disappeared: It was for Italy I feared. An hour, and she returned alone Exactly where my glove was thrown. Meanwhile came many thoughts: on me Rested the hopes of Italy. I had devised a certain tale

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Which, when 'twas told her, could not fail Persuade a peasant of its truth; I meant to call a freak of youth This hiding, and give hopes of pay, And no temptation to betray. But when I saw that woman's face, Its calm simplicity of grace, Our Italy's own attitude In which she walked thus far, and stood, Planting each naked foot so firm, To crush the snake and spare the worm--At first sight of her eyes, I said, ``I am that man upon whose head ``They fix the price, because I hate ``The Austrians over us: the State ``Will give you gold---oh, gold so much!--``If you betray me to their clutch, ``And be your death, for aught I know, ``If once they find you saved their foe. ``Now, you must bring me food and drink, ``And also paper, pen and ink, ``And carry safe what I shall write ``To Padua, which you'll reach at night ``Before the duomo shuts; go in, ``And wait till Tenebr begin; ``Walk to the third confessional, ``Between the pillar and the wall, ``And kneeling whisper, _Whence comes peace?_ ``Say it a second time, then cease; ``And if the voice inside returns, ``_From Christ and Freedom; what concerns ``The cause of Peace?_---for answer, slip ``My letter where you placed your lip; ``Then come back happy we have done ``Our mother service---I, the son, ``As you the daughter of our land!'' Three mornings more, she took her stand In the same place, with the same eyes: I was no surer of sun-rise That of her coming. We conferred Of her own prospects, and I heard She had a lover---stout and tall, She said---then let her eyelids fall, ``He could do much''---as if some doubt Entered her heart,---then, passing out, ``She could not speak for others, who ``Had other thoughts; herself she knew:'' And so she brought me drink and food. After four days, the scouts pursued Another path; at last arrived The help my Paduan friends contrived

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To furnish me: she brought the news. For the first time I could not choose But kiss her hand, and lay my own Upon her head---``This faith was shown ``To Italy, our mother; she ``Uses my hand and blesses thee.'' She followed down to the sea-shore; I left and never saw her more.

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How very long since I have thought Concerning---much less wished for---aught Beside the good of Italy, For which I live and mean to die! I never was in love; and since Charles proved false, what shall now convince. My inmost heart I have a friend? However, if I pleased to spend Real wishes on myself---say, three--I know at least what one should be. I would grasp Metternich until I felt his red wet throat distil In blood thro' these two hands. And next, ---Nor much for that am I perplexed--Charles, perjured traitor, for his part, Should die slow of a broken heart Under his new employer. Last ---Ah, there, what should I wish? For fast Do I grow old and out of strength. If I resolved to seek at length My father's house again, how scared They all would look, and unprepared! My brothers live in Austria's pay ---Disowned me long ago, men say; And all my early mates who used To praise me so---perhaps induced More than one early step of mine--Are turning wise: while some opine ``Freedom grows license,'' some suspect ``Haste breeds delay,'' and recollect They always said, such premature Beginnings never could endure! So, with a sullen ``All's for best,'' The land seems settling to its rest. I think then, I should wish to stand This evening in that dear, lost land, Over the sea the thousand miles, And know if yet that woman smiles With the calm smile; some little farm She lives in there, no doubt: what harm If I sat on the door-side bench, And, while her spindle made a trench Fantastically in the dust,

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Inquired of all her fortunes---just Her children's ages and their names, And what may be the husband's aims For each of them. I'd talk this out, And sit there, for an hour about, Then kiss her hand once more, and lay Mine on her head, and go my way. So much for idle wishing---how It steals the time! To business now. Robert Browning

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The Laboratory ANCIEN RGIME. Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro' these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy--Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them!---I am here. Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder,---I am not in haste! Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things, Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's. That in the mortar---you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly,---is that poison too? Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures, What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures! To carry pure death in an earring, a casket, A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket! Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give, And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead! Quick---is it finished? The colour's too grim! Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim? Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!
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What a drop! She's not little, no minion like me! That's why she ensnared him: this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes,---Say, ``no!'' To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go. For only last night, as they whispered, I brought My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all! Not that I bid you spare her the pain; Let death be felt and the proof remain: Brand, burn up, bite into its grace--He is sure to remember her dying face! Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose; It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close; The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee! If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me? Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill, You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings Ere I know it---next moment I dance at the King's! Robert Browning XII. XI. X. IX.

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The Laboratory-Ancien Régime I. Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze thro' these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy--Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?

II. He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear Empty church, to pray God in, for them!---I am here. III Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, Pound at thy powder,---I am not in haste! Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things, Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's. IV That in the mortar---you call it a gum? Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come! And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue, Sure to taste sweetly,---is that poison too? V Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures, What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures! To carry pure death in an earring, a casket, A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket!

VI Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give, And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live! But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead! VII Quick---is it finished? The colour's too grim! Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim? Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir, And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!

VIII What a drop! She's not little, no minion like me! That's why she ensnared him: this never will free The soul from those masculine eyes,---Say, ``no!'' To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go.

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IX For only last night, as they whispered, I brought My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall

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Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all! X Not that I bid you spare her the pain; Let death be felt and the proof remain: Brand, burn up, bite into its grace--He is sure to remember her dying face!

XI Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose; It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close; The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee! If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?

XII Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill, You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will! But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings Ere I know it---next moment I dance at the King's! Robert Browning

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The Last Ride Together I. I said---Then, dearest, since 'tis so, Since now at length my fate I know, Since nothing all my love avails, Since all, my life seemed meant for, fails, Since this was written and needs must be--My whole heart rises up to bless Your name in pride and thankfulness! Take back the hope you gave,---I claim ---Only a memory of the same, ---And this beside, if you will not blame, Your leave for one more last ride with me. My mistress bent that brow of hers; Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs When pity would be softening through, Fixed me, a breathing-while or two, With life or death in the balance: right! The blood replenished me again; My last thought was at least not vain: I and my mistress, side by side Shall be together, breathe and ride, So, one day more am I deified. Who knows but the world may end tonight? Hush! if you saw some western cloud All billowy-bosomed, over-bowed By many benedictions---sun's And moon's and evening-star's at once--And so, you, looking and loving best, Conscious grew, your passion drew Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too, Down on you, near and yet more near, Till flesh must fade for heaven was here!--Thus leant she and lingered---joy and fear! Thus lay she a moment on my breast. Then we began to ride. My soul Smoothed itself out, a long-cramped scroll Freshening and fluttering in the wind. Past hopes already lay behind. What need to strive with a life awry? Had I said that, had I done this, So might I gain, so might I miss. Might she have loved me? just as well IV. III. II.

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She might have hated, who can tell! Where had I been now if the worst befell? And here we are riding, she and I. Fail I alone, in words and deeds? Why, all men strive and who succeeds? We rode; it seemed my spirit flew, Saw other regions, cities new, As the world rushed by on either side. I thought,---All labour, yet no less Bear up beneath their unsuccess. Look at the end of work, contrast The petty done, the undone vast, This present of theirs with the hopeful past! I hoped she would love me; here we ride. What hand and brain went ever paired? What heart alike conceived and dared? What act proved all its thought had been? What will but felt the fleshly screen? We ride and I see her bosom heave. There's many a crown for who can reach, Ten lines, a statesman's life in each! The flag stuck on a heap of bones, A soldier's doing! what atones? They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones. My riding is better, by their leave. What does it all mean, poet? Well, Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell What we felt only; you expressed You hold things beautiful the best, And pace them in rhyme so, side by side. 'Tis something, nay 'tis much: but then, Have you yourself what's best for men? Are you---poor, sick, old ere your time--Nearer one whit your own sublime Than we who never have turned a rhyme? Sing, riding's a joy! For me, I ride. And you, great sculptor---so, you gave A score of years to Art, her slave, And that's your Venus, whence we turn To yonder girl that fords the burn! VIII. VII. VI. V.

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You acquiesce, and shall I repine? What, man of music, you grown grey With notes and nothing else to say, Is this your sole praise from a friend, ``Greatly his opera's strains intend, ``Put in music we know how fashions end!'' I gave my youth; but we ride, in fine. Who knows what's fit for us? Had fate Proposed bliss here should sublimate My being---had I signed the bond--Still one must lead some life beyond, Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried. This foot once planted on the goal, This glory-garland round my soul, Could I descry such? Try and test! I sink back shuddering from the quest. Earth being so good, would heaven seem best? Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride. And yet---she has not spoke so long! What if heaven be that, fair and strong At life's best, with our eyes upturned Whither life's flower is first discerned, We, fixed so, ever should so abide? What if we still ride on, we two With life for ever old yet new, Changed not in kind but in degree, The instant made eternity,--And heaven just prove that I and she Ride, ride together, for ever ride? Robert Browning X. IX.

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The Lost Leader I. Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat--Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us, Lost all the others she lets us devote; They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver, So much was theirs who so little allowed: How all our copper had gone for his service! Rags---were they purple, his heart had been proud! We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him, Lived in his mild and magnificent eye, Learned his great language, caught his clear accents, Made him our pattern to live and to die! Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us, Burns, Shelley, were with us,---they watch from their graves! He alone breaks from the van and the free-men, ---He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves! We shall march prospering,---not thro' his presence; Songs may inspirit us,---not from his lyre; Deeds will be done,---while he boasts his quiescence, Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire: Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more, One task more declined, one more foot-path untrod, One more devils'-triumph and sorrow for angels, One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! Life's night begins: let him never come back to us! There would be doubt, hesitation and pain, Forced praise on our part---the glimmer of twilight, Never glad confident morning again! Best fight on well, for we taught him---strike gallantly, Menace our heart ere we master his own; Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us, Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne! Robert Browning II.

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The Lost Mistress I. All's over, then: does truth sound bitter As one at first believes? Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter About your cottage eaves! And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly, I noticed that, to-day; One day more bursts them open fully ---You know the red turns grey. To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest? May I take your hand in mine? Mere friends are we,---well, friends the merest Keep much that I resign: For each glance of the eye so bright and black, Though I keep with heart's endeavour,--Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back, Though it stay in my soul for ever!--Yet I will but say what mere friends say, Or only a thought stronger; I will hold your hand but as long as all may, Or so very little longer! Robert Browning V. IV. III. II.

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The Patriot AN OLD STORY. It was roses, roses, all the way, With myrtle mixed in my path like mad: The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway, The church-spires flamed, such flags they had, A year ago on this very day. The air broke into a mist with bells, The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries. Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels--But give me your sun from yonder skies!'' They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?'' Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun To give it my loving friends to keep! Nought man could do, have I left undone: And you see my harvest, what I reap This very day, now a year is run. There's nobody on the house-tops now--Just a palsied few at the windows set; For the best of the sight is, all allow, At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet, By the very scaffold's foot, I trow. I go in the rain, and, more than needs, A rope cuts both my wrists behind; And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds, For they fling, whoever has a mind, Stones at me for my year's misdeeds. Thus I entered, and thus I go! In triumphs, people have dropped down dead. ``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe ``Me?''---God might question; now instead, 'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so. Robert Browning VI. V. IV. III. II. I.

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The Pied Piper Of Hamelin I. Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin, was a pity. Rats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles, Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats. At last the people in a body To the Town Hall came flocking: ``'Tis clear,'' cried they, ``our Mayor's a noddy; ``And as for our Corporation---shocking. ``To think we buy gowns lined with ermine ``For dolts that can't or won't determine ``What's best to rid us of our vermin! ``You hope, because you're old and obese, ``To find in the furry civic robe ease? ``Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking ``To find the remedy we're lacking, ``Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!'' At this the Mayor and Corporation Quaked with a mighty consternation. An hour they sat in council, At length the Mayor broke silence: ``For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell, ``I wish I were a mile hence! ``It's easy to bid one rack one's brain--``I'm sure my poor head aches again, ``I've scratched it so, and all in vain. IV. III. II.

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``Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!'' Just as he said this, what should hap At the chamber door but a gentle tap? ``Bless us,'' cried the Mayor, ``what's that?'' (With the Corporation as he sat, Looking little though wondrous fat; Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister Than a too-long-opened oyster, Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous For a plate of turtle green and glutinous) ``Only a scraping of shoes on the mat? ``Anything like the sound of a rat ``Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!'' ``Come in!''---the Mayor cried, looking bigger: And in did come the strangest figure! His queer long coat from heel to head Was half of yellow and half of red, And he himself was tall and thin, With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin, No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin, But lips where smiles went out and in; There was no guessing his kith and kin: And nobody could enough admire The tall man and his quaint attire. Quoth one: ``It's as my great-grandsire, ``Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone, ``Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!'' He advanced to the council-table And, ``Please your honours,'' said he, ``I'm able, ``By means of a secret charm, to draw ``All creatures living beneath the sun, ``That creep or swim or fly or run, ``After me so as you never saw! ``And I chiefly use my charm ``On creatures that do people harm, ``The mole and toad and newt and viper; ``And people call me the Pied Piper.'' (And here they noticed round his neck A scarf of red and yellow stripe, To match with his coat of the self-same cheque; And at the scarf's end hung a pipe; And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying As if impatient to be playing Upon this pipe, as low it dangled Over his vesture so old-fangled.) VI. V.

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``Yet,'' said he, ``poor piper as I am, ``In Tartary I freed the Cham, ``Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats; ``I eased in Asia the Nizam ``Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats: ``And as for what your brain bewilders, ``If I can rid your town of rats ``Will you give me a thousand guilders?'' ``One? fifty thousand!''---was the exclamation Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation. Into the street the Piper stept, Smiling first a little smile, As if he knew what magic slept In his quiet pipe the while; Then, like a musical adept, To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled, And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled, Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled; And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, You heard as if an army muttered; And the muttering grew to a grumbling; And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling; And out of the houses the rats came tumbling. Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats, Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, Cocking tails and pricking whiskers, Families by tens and dozens, Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives--Followed the Piper for their lives. From street to street he piped advancing, And step for step they followed dancing, Until they came to the river Weser, Wherein all plunged and perished! ---Save one who, stout as Julius Csar, Swam across and lived to carry (As he, the manuscript he cherished) To Rat-land home his commentary: Which was, ``At the first shrill notes of the pipe, ``I heard a sound as of scraping tripe, ``And putting apples, wondrous ripe, ``Into a cider-press's gripe: ``And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards, ``And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards, ``And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks, ``And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks: ``And it seemed as if a voice ``(Sweeter far than b harp or b psaltery VII.

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``Is breathed) called out, `Oh rats, rejoice! `` `The world is grown to one vast drysaltery! `` `So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, `` `Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!' ``And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, ``All ready staved, like a great sun shone ``Glorious scarce an inch before me, ``Just as methought it said, `Come, bore me!' ``---I found the Weser rolling o'er me.'' You should have heard the Hamelin people ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple. ``Go,'' cried the Mayor, ``and get long poles, ``Poke out the nests and block up the holes! ``Consult with carpenters and builders, ``And leave in our town not even a trace ``Of the rats!''---when suddenly, up the face Of the Piper perked in the market-place, With a, ``First, if you please, my thousand guilders!'' A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue; So did the Corporation too. For council dinners made rare havoc With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock; And half the money would replenish Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish. To pay this sum to a wandering fellow With a gipsy coat of red and yellow! ``Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink, ``Our business was done at the river's brink; ``We saw with our eyes the vermin sink, ``And what's dead can't come to life, I think. ``So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink ``From the duty of giving you something for drink, ``And a matter of money to put in your poke; ``But as for the guilders, what we spoke ``Of them, as you very well know, was in joke. ``Beside, our losses have made us thrifty. ``A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!'' The Piper's face fell, and he cried ``No trifling! I can't wait, beside! ``I've promised to visit by dinnertime ``Bagdat, and accept the prime ``Of the Head-Cook's pottage, all he's rich in, ``For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen, X. IX. VIII.

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``Of a nest of scorpions no survivor: ``With him I proved no bargain-driver, ``With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver! ``And folks who put me in a passion ``May find me pipe after another fashion.'' ``How?'' cried the Mayor, ``d'ye think I brook ``Being worse treated than a Cook? ``Insulted by a lazy ribald ``With idle pipe and vesture piebald? ``You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst, ``Blow your pipe there till you burst!'' Once more he stept into the street And to his lips again Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane; And ere he blew three notes (such sweet Soft notes as yet musician's cunning Never gave the enraptured air) There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling, Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering, Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering, And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering, Out came the children running. All the little boys and girls, With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after The wonderful music with shouting and laughter. The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood As if they were changed into blocks of wood, Unable to move a step, or cry To the children merrily skipping by, ---Could only follow with the eye That joyous crowd at the Piper's back. But how the Mayor was on the rack, And the wretched Council's bosoms beat, As the Piper turned from the High Street To where the Weser rolled its waters Right in the way of their sons and daughters! However be turned from South to West, And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed, And after him the children pressed; Great was the joy in every breast. XIII. XII. XI.

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``He never can cross that mighty top! ``He's forced to let the piping drop, ``And we shall see our children stop!'' When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side, A wondrous portal opened wide, As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; And the Piper advanced and the children followed, And when all were in to the very last, The door in the mountain-side shut fast. Did I say, all? No! One was lame, And could not dance the whole of the way; And in after years, if you would blame His sadness, he was used to say,--``It's dull in our town since my playmates left! ``I can't forget that I'm bereft ``Of all the pleasant sights they see, ``Which the Piper also promised me. ``For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, ``Joining the town and just at hand, ``Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew ``And flowers put forth a fairer hue, ``And everything was strange and new; ``The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here, ``And their dogs outran our fallow deer, ``And honey-bees had lost their stings, ``And horses were born with eagles' wings: ``And just as I became assured ``My lame foot would be speedily cured, ``The music stopped and I stood still, ``And found myself outside the hill, ``Left alone against my will, ``To go now limping as before, ``And never hear of that country more!'' Alas, alas for Hamelin! There came into many a burgher's pate A text which says that heaven's gate Opes to the rich at as easy rate As the needle's eye takes a camel in! The mayor sent East, West, North and South, To offer the Piper, by word of mouth, Wherever it was men's lot to find him, Silver and gold to his heart's content, If he'd only return the way he went, And bring the children behind him. But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour, And Piper and dancers were gone for ever, They made a decree that lawyers never Should think their records dated duly If, after the day of the month and year, XIV.

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These words did not as well appear, ``And so long after what happened here ``On the Twenty-second of July, ``Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:'' And the better in memory to fix The place of the children's last retreat, They called it, the Pied Piper's Street--Where any one playing on pipe or tabor Was sure for the future to lose his labour. Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern To shock with mirth a street so solemn; But opposite the place of the cavern They wrote the story on a column, And on the great church-window painted The same, to make the world acquainted How their children were stolen away, And there it stands to this very day. And I must not omit to say That in Transylvania there's a tribe Of alien people who ascribe The outlandish ways and dress On which their neighbours lay such stress, To their fathers and mothers having risen Out of some subterraneous prison Into which they were trepanned Long time ago in a mighty band Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land, But how or why, they don't understand. So, Willy, let me and you be wipers Of scores out with all men---especially pipers! And, whether they pipe us free frm rats or frm mice, If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise! Robert Browning XV.

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The Statue and the Bust There's a palace in Florence, the world knows well, And a statue watches it from the square, And this story of both do our townsmen tell. Ages ago, a lady there, At the farthest window facing the East, Asked, "Who rides by with the royal air?"

The bridesmaids' prattle around her ceased; She leaned forth, one on either hand; They saw how the blush of the bride increased -They felt by its beats her heart expand -As one at each ear and both in a breath Whispered, "The Great-Duke Ferdinand." That self-same instant, underneath, The Duke rode past in his idle way, Empty and fine like a swordless sheath.

Gay he rode, with a friend as gay, Till he threw his head back -- "Who is she?" -- "A bride the Riccardi brings home today." Hair in heaps lay heavily Over a pale brow spirit-pure -Carved like the heart of the coal-black tree, Crisped like a war-steed's encolure -And vainly sought to dissemble her eyes Of the blackest black our eyes endure.

And lo, a blade for a knight's emprise Filled the fine empty sheath of a man, -The Duke grew straightway brave and wise. He looked at her, as a lover can; She looked at him, as one who awakes: The past was a sleep, and their life began.

Now, love so ordered for both their sakes, A feast was held that selfsame night In the pile which the mighty shadow makes. (For Via Larga is three-parts light, But the palace overshadows one, Because of a crime which may God requite! To Florence and God the wrong was done, Through the first republic's murder there By Cosimo and his cursèd son.)
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The Duke (with the statue's face in the square) Turned in the midst of his multitude At the bright approach of the bridal pair.

Face to face the lovers stood A single minute and no more, While the bridegroom bent as a man subdued -Bowed till his bonnet brushed the floor -For the Duke on the lady a kiss conferred, As the courtly custom was of yore. In a minute can lovers exchange a word? If a word did pass, which I do not think, Only one out of the thousand heard. That was the bridegroom. At day's brink He and his bride were alone at last In a bedchamber by a taper's blink.

Calmly he said that her lot was cast, That the door she had passed was shut on her Till the final catafalque repassed. The world meanwhile, its noise and stir, Through a certain window facing the East, She could watch like a convent's chronicler.

Since passing the door might lead to a feast, And a feast might lead to so much beside, He, of many evils, chose the least.

"Freely I choose too," said the bride -"Your window and its world suffice," Replied the tongue, while the heart replied -"If I spend the night with that devil twice, May his window serve as my loop of hell Whence a damned soul looks on paradise! "I fly to the Duke who loves me well, Sit by his side and laugh at sorrow Ere I count another ave-bell.

"'Tis only the coat of a page to borrow, And tie my hair in a horse-boy's trim, And I save my soul -- but not tomorrow" --

(She checked herself and her eye grew dim) "My father tarries to bless my state: I must keep it one day more for him.
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"Is one day more so long to wait? Moreover the Duke rides past, I know; We shall see each other, sure as fate."

She turned on her side and slept. Just so! So we resolve on a thing and sleep: So did the lady, ages ago. That night the Duke said, "Dear or cheap As the cost of this cup of bliss may prove To body or soul, I will drain it deep."

And on the morrow, bold with love, He beckoned the bridegroom (close on call, As his duty bade, by the Duke's alcove) And smiled "'Twas a very funeral, Your lady will think, this feast of ours, -A shame to efface, whate'er befall!

"What if we break from the Arno bowers, And try if Petraja, cool and green, Cure last night's fault with this morning's flowers?" The bridegroom, not a thought to be seen On his steady brow and quiet mouth, Said, "Too much favour for me so mean! "But, alas! my lady leaves the South; Each wind that comes from the Apennine Is a menace to her tender youth: "Nor a way exists, the wise opine, If she quits her palace twice this year, To avert the flower of life's decline."

Quoth the Duke, "A sage and a kindly fear. Moreover Petraja is cold this spring: Be our feast tonight as usual here!"

And then to himself -- "Which night shall bring Thy bride to her lover's embraces, fool -Or I am the fool, and thou art the king! "Yet my passion must wait a night, nor cool -For tonight the Envoy arrives from France Whose heart I unlock with thyself, my tool. "I need thee still and might miss perchance. Today is not wholly lost, beside, With its hope of my lady's countenance:
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"For I ride -- what should I do but ride? And passing her palace, if I list, May glance at its window -- well betide!"

So said, so done: nor the lady missed One ray that broke from the ardent brow, Nor a curl of the lips where the spirit kissed. Be sure that each renewed the vow, No morrow's sun should arise and set And leave them then as it left them now.

But next day passed, and next day yet, With still fresh cause to wait one day more Ere each leaped over the parapet. And still, as love's brief morning wore, With a gentle start, half smile, half sigh, They found love not as it seemed before.

They thought it would work infallibly, But not in despite of heaven and earth: The rose would blow when the storm passed by. Meantime they could profit in winter's dearth By store of fruits that supplant the rose: The world and its ways have a certain worth: And to press a point while these oppose Were simple policy; better wait: We lose no friends and we gain no foes.

Meantime, worse fates than a lover's fate, Who daily may ride and pass and look Where his lady watches behind the grate!

And she -- she watched the square like a book Holding one picture and only one, Which daily to find she undertook:

When the picture was reached the book was done, And she turned from the picture at night to scheme Of tearing it out for herself next sun. So weeks grew months, years; gleam by gleam The glory dropped from their youth and love, And both perceived they had dreamed a dream; Which hovered as dreams do, still above: But who can take a dream for a truth? Oh, hide our eyes from the next remove!
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One day as the lady saw her youth Depart, and the silver thread that streaked Her hair, and, worn by the serpent's tooth,

The brow so puckered, the chin so peaked, -And wondered who the woman was, Hollow-eyed and haggard-cheeked, Fronting her silent in the glass -"Summon here," she suddenly said, "Before the rest of my old self pass,

"Him, the Carver, a hand to aid, Who fashions the clay no love will change, And fixes a beauty never to fade. "Let Robbia's craft so apt and strange Arrest the remains of young and fair, And rivet them while the seasons range. "Make me a face on the window there, Waiting as ever, mute the while, My love to pass below in the square!

"And let me think that it may beguile Dreary days which the dead must spend Down in their darkness under the aisle,

"To say, 'What matters it at the end? I did no more while my heart was warm Than does that image, my pale-faced friend.' "Where is the use of the lip's red charm, The heaven of hair, the pride of the brow, And the blood that blues the inside arm -"Unless we turn, as the soul knows how, The earthly gift to an end divine? A lady of clay is as good, I trow."

But long ere Robbia's cornice, fine, With flowers and fruits which leaves enlace, Was set where now is the empty shrine -(And, leaning out of a bright blue space, As a ghost might lean from a chink of sky, The passionate pale lady's face -Eyeing ever, with earnest eye

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And quick-turned neck at its breathless stretch, Some one who ever is passing by --) The Duke had sighed like the simplest wretch

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In Florence, "Youth -- my dream escapes! Will its record stay?" And he bade them fetch Some subtle moulder of brazen shapes -"Can the soul, the will, die out of a man Ere his body find the grave that gapes? "John of Douay shall effect my plan, Set me on horseback here aloft, Alive, as the crafty sculptor can,

"In the very square I have crossed so oft: That men may admire, when future suns Shall touch the eyes to a purpose soft,

"While the mouth and the brow stay brave in bronze -Admire and say, 'When he was alive How he would take his pleasure once!' "And it shall go hard but I contrive To listen the while, and laugh in my tomb At idleness which aspires to strive." So! While these wait the trump of doom, How do their spirits pass, I wonder, Nights and days in the narrow room? Still, I suppose, they sit and ponder What a gift life was, ages ago, Six steps out of the chapel yonder. Only they see not God, I know, Nor all that chivalry of his, The soldier-saints who, row on row,

Burn upward each to his point of bliss -Since, the end of life being manifest, He had burned his way through the world to this. I hear you reproach, "But delay was best, For their end was a crime." -- Oh, a crime will do As well, I reply, to serve for a test, As a virtue golden through and through, Sufficient to vindicate itself And prove its worth at a moment's view!

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Must a game be played for the sake of pelf? Where a button goes, 'twere an epigram To offer the stamp of the very Guelph.

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The true has no value beyond the sham: As well the counter as coin, I submit, When your table's a hat, and your prize a dram. Stake your counter as boldly every whit, Venture as warily, use the same skill, Do your best, whether winning or losing it, If you choose to play! -- is my principle. Let a man contend to the uttermost For his life's set prize, be it what it will!

The counter our lovers staked was lost As surely as if it were lawful coin: And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost Is -- the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin, Though the end in sight was a vice, I say. You of the virtue (we issue join) How strive you? De te, fabula. Robert Browning

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395

The Twins Give'' and ``It-shall-be-given-unto-you.'' Grand rough old Martin Luther Bloomed fables---flowers on furze, The better the uncouther: Do roses stick like burrs? A beggar asked an alms One day at an abbey-door, Said Luther; but, seized with qualms, The abbot replied, ``We're poor! ``Poor, who had plenty once, ``When gifts fell thick as rain: ``But they give us nought, for the nonce, ``And how should we give again?'' Then the beggar, ``See your sins! ``Of old, unless I err, ``Ye had brothers for inmates, twins, ``Date and Dabitur. ``While Date was in good case ``Dabitur flourished too: ``For Dabitur's lenten face ``No wonder if Date rue. ``Would ye retrieve the one? ``Try and make plump the other! ``When Date's penance is done, ``Dabitur helps his brother. ``Only, beware relapse!'' The Abbot hung his head. This beggar might be perhaps An angel, Luther said.
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I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

Robert Browning

396

The Wanderers OVER the sea our galleys went, With cleaving prows in order brave To a speeding wind and a bounding wave-A gallant armament: Each bark built out of a forest-tree Left leafy and rough as first it grew, And nail'd all over the gaping sides, Within and without, with black bull-hides, Seethed in fat and suppled in flame, To bear the playful billows' game; So, each good ship was rude to see, Rude and bare to the outward view. But each upbore a stately tent Where cedar pales in scented row Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine, And an awning droop'd the mast below, In fold on fold of the purple fine, That neither noontide nor star-shine Nor moonlight cold which maketh mad, Might pierce the regal tenement. When the sun dawn'd, O, gay and glad We set the sail and plied the oar; But when the night-wind blew like breath, For joy of one day's voyage more, We sang together on the wide sea, Like men at peace on a peaceful shore; Each sail was loosed to the wind so free, Each helm made sure by the twilight star, And in a sleep as calm as death, We, the voyagers from afar, Lay stretch'd along, each weary crew In a circle round its wondrous tent Whence gleam'd soft light and curl'd rich scent, And with light and perfume, music too: So the stars wheel'd round, and the darkness past, And at morn we started beside the mast, And still each ship was sailing fast! Now, one morn, land appear'd--a speck Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky-'Avoid it,' cried our pilot, 'check The shout, restrain the eager eye!' But the heaving sea was black behind For many a night and many a day, And land, though but a rock, drew nigh; So we broke the cedar pales away, Let the purple awning flap in the wind, And a statue bright was on every deck! We shouted, every man of us, And steer'd right into the harbour thus, With pomp and paean glorious.
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397

A hundred shapes of lucid stone! All day we built its shrine for each, A shrine of rock for ever one, Nor paused till in the westering sun We sat together on the beach To sing because our task was done; When lo! what shouts and merry songs! What laughter all the distance stirs! A loaded raft with happy throngs Of gentle islanders! 'Our isles are just at hand,' they cried, 'Like cloudlets faint in even sleeping; Our temple-gates are open'd wide, Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping For these majestic forms'--they cried. O, then we awoke with sudden start From our deep dream, and knew, too late, How bare the rock, how desolate, Which had received our precious freight: Yet we call'd out--'Depart! Our gifts, once given, must here abide: Our work is done; we have no heart To mar our work,'--we cried. Robert Browning

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398

The Year's at the Spring The year's at the spring, And day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hill-side's dew-pearled; The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn; God's in his Heaven— All's right with the world! Robert Browning

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399

Through The Metidja To Abd-El-Kadr Abd-el-Kadr was an Arab Chief of Algiers who resisted the French in 1833.] As I ride, as I ride, With a full heart for my guide, So its tide rocks my side, As I ride, as I ride, That, as I were double-eyed, He, in whom our Tribes confide, Is descried, ways untried As I ride, as I ride. As I ride, as I ride To our Chief and his Allied, Who dares chide my heart's pride As I ride, as I ride? Or are witnesses denied--Through the desert waste and wide Do I glide unespied As I ride, as I ride? As I ride, as I ride, When an inner voice has cried, The sands slide, nor abide (As I ride, as I ride) O'er each visioned homicide That came vaunting (has he lied?) To reside---where he died, As I ride, as I ride. As I ride, as I ride, Ne'er has spur my swift horse plied, Yet his hide, streaked and pied, As I ride, as I ride, Shows where sweat has sprung and dried, ---Zebra-footed, ostrich-thighed--How has vied stride with stride As I ride, as I ride! As I ride, as I ride, Could I loose what Fate has tied, Ere I pried, she should hide (As I ride, as I ride) V. IV. III. II. I.

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400

All that's meant me---satisfied When the Prophet and the Bride Stop veins I'd have subside As I ride, as I ride! Robert Browning

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401

Through The Metodja To Abd-El-Kadr I As I ride, as I ride, With a full heart for my guide, So its tide rocks my side, As I ride, as I ride, That, as I were double-eyed, He, in whom our Tribes confide, Is descried, ways untried As I ride, as I ride. II

As I ride, as I ride To our Chief and his Allied, Who dares chide my heart's pride As I ride, as I ride? Or are witnesses denied— Through the desert waste and wide Do I glide unespied As I ride, as I ride? III

As I ride, as I ride, When an inner voice has cried, The sands slide, nor abide (As I ride, as I ride) O'er each visioned Homicide That came vaunting (has he lied?) To reside—where he died, As I ride, as I ride. IV

As I ride, as I ride, Ne'er has spur my swift horse plied, Yet his hide, streaked and pied, As I ride, as I ride, Shows where sweat has sprung and dried, —Zebra-footed, ostrich-thighed— How has vied stride with stride As I ride, as I ride! V

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As I ride, as I ride, Could I loose what Fate has tied,

402

Ere I pried, she should hide As I ride, as I ride, All that's meant me: satisfied When the Prophet and the Bride Stop veins I'd have subside As I ride, as I ride! Robert Browning

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403

Thus the Mayne glideth THUS the Mayne glideth Where my Love abideth; Sleep 's no softer: it proceeds On through lawns, on through meads, On and on, whate'er befall, Meandering and musical, Though the niggard pasturage Bears not on its shaven ledge Aught but weeds and waving grasses To view the river as it passes, Save here and there a scanty patch Of primroses too faint to catch A weary bee.... And scarce it pushes Its gentle way through strangling rushes Where the glossy kingfisher Flutters when noon-heats are near, Glad the shelving banks to shun, Red and steaming in the sun, Where the shrew-mouse with pale throat Burrows, and the speckled stoat; Where the quick sandpipers flit In and out the marl and grit That seems to breed them, brown as they: Naught disturbs its quiet way, Save some lazy stork that springs, Trailing it with legs and wings, Whom the shy fox from the hill Rouses, creep he ne'er so still. Robert Browning

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404

Time's Revenges I've a Friend, over the sea; I like him, but he loves me. It all grew out of the books I write; They find such favour in his sight That he slaughters you with savage looks Because you don't admire my books. He does himself though,---and if some vein Were to snap to-night in this heavy brain, To-morrow month, if I lived to try, Round should I just turn quietly, Or out of the bedclothes stretch my hand Till I found him, come from his foreign land To be my nurse in this poor place, And make my broth and wash my face And light my fire and, all the while, Bear with his old good-humoured smile That I told him ``Better have kept away ``Than come and kill me, night and day, ``With, worse than fever throbs and shoots, ``The creaking of his clumsy boots.'' I am as sure that this he would do As that Saint Paul's is striking two. And I think I rather ... woe is me! ---Yes, rather would see him than not see, If lifting a hand could seat him there Before me in the empty chair To-night, when my head aches indeed, And I can neither think nor read Nor make these purple fingers hold The pen; this garret's freezing cold!

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And I've a Lady---there he wakes, The laughing fiend and prince of snakes Within me, at her name, to pray Fate send some creature in the way Of my love for her, to be down-torn, Upthrust and outward-borne, So I might prove myself that sea Of passion which I needs must be! Call my thoughts false and my fancies quaint And my style infirm and its figures faint, All the critics say, and more blame yet, And not one angry word you get. But, please you, wonder I would put My cheek beneath that lady's foot Rather than trample under mine The laurels of the Florentine, And you shall see how the devil spends A fire God gave for other ends! I tell you, I stride up and down This garret, crowned with love's best crown, And feasted with love's perfect feast,

405

To think I kill for her, at least, Body and soul and peace and fame, Alike youth's end and manhood's aim, ---So is my spirit, as flesh with sin, Filled full, eaten out and in With the face of her, the eyes of her, The lips, the little chin, the stir Of shadow round her month; and she ---I'll tell you,---calmly would decree That I should roast at a slow fire, If that would compass her desire And make her one whom they invite To the famous ball to-morrow night.

There may be heaven; there must be hell; Meantime, there is our earth here---well! Robert Browning

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406

To Edward Fitzgerald I chanced upon a new book yesterday; I opened it, and, where my finger lay 'Twixt page and uncut page, these words I read Some six or seven at most - and learned thereby That you, Fitzgerald, whom by ear and eye She never knew, "thanked God my wife was dead." Aye, dead! and were yourself alive, good Fitz, How to return you thanks would task my wits. Kicking you seems the common lot of curs While more appropriate greeting lends you grace, Surely to spit there glorifies your face Spitting from lips once sanctified by hers. Robert Browning

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407

Twins, The ``Give'' and ``It-shall-be-given-unto-you.'' Grand rough old Martin Luther Bloomed fables---flowers on furze, The better the uncouther: Do roses stick like burrs? A beggar asked an alms One day at an abbey-door, Said Luther; but, seized with qualms, The abbot replied, ``We're poor! ``Poor, who had plenty once, ``When gifts fell thick as rain: ``But they give us nought, for the nonce, ``And how should we give again?'' Then the beggar, ``See your sins! ``Of old, unless I err, ``Ye had brothers for inmates, twins, ``Date and Dabitur. ``While Date was in good case ``Dabitur flourished too: ``For Dabitur's lenten face ``No wonder if Date rue. ``Would ye retrieve the one? ``Try and make plump the other! ``When Date's penance is done, ``Dabitur helps his brother. ``Only, beware relapse!'' The Abbot hung his head. This beggar might be perhaps An angel, Luther said.
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I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

Robert Browning

408

Two In The Campagna . I wonder do you feel to-day As I have felt since, hand in hand, We sat down on the grass, to stray In spirit better through the land, This morn of Rome and May? For me, I touched a thought, I know, Has tantalized me many times, (Like turns of thread the spiders throw Mocking across our path) for rhymes To catch at and let go. Help me to hold it! First it left The yellowing fennel,<*1> run to seed There, branching from the brickwork's cleft, Some old tomb's ruin: yonder weed Took up the floating wet, Where one small orange cup amassed Five beetles,---blind and green they grope Among the honey-meal: and last, Everywhere on the grassy slope I traced it. Hold it fast! The champaign with its endless fleece Of feathery grasses everywhere! Silence and passion, joy and peace, An everlasting wash of air--Rome's ghost since her decease. Such life here, through such lengths of hours, Such miracles performed in play, Such primal naked forms of flowers, Such letting nature have her way While heaven looks from its towers! How say you? Let us, O my dove, Let us be unashamed of soul, VII. VI. V. IV. III. II.

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409

As earth lies bare to heaven above! How is it under our control To love or not to love? I would that you were all to me, You that are just so much, no more. Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! Where does the fault lie? What the core O' the wound, since wound must be? I would I could adopt your will, See with your eyes, and set my heart Beating by yours, and drink my fill At your soul's springs,---your part my part In life, for good and ill. No. I yearn upward, touch you close, Then stand away. I kiss your cheek, Catch your soul's warmth,---I pluck the rose And love it more than tongue can speak--Then the good minute goes. Already how am I so far Out of that minute? Must I go Still like the thistle-ball, no bar, Onward, whenever light winds blow, Fixed by no friendly star? Just when I seemed about to learn! Where is the thread now? Off again! The old trick! Only I discern--Infinite passion, and the pain Of finite hearts that yearn. XII. XI. X. IX. VIII.

* 1 Herb with yellow flowers and seeds supposed * to be medicinal. Robert Browning

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410

Up at a Villa -- Down in the City <i>(As Distinguished by an Italian Person of Quality)</i> I

Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there! II

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast; While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast. III

Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull Just on a mountain's edge as bare as the creature's skull, Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! - I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool. IV

But the city, oh the city—the square with the houses! Why? They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry! You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by: Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly. V

What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint grey olive trees. VI

Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns. 'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.
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VII

Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in her conch—fifty gazers do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of sash! VIII

All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like Death's lean lifted forefinger. Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in the corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,—I spare you the months of the fever and chill. IX

Ere opening your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin. By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth; Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath. At the post-office such a scene-picture—the new play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot. Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes, And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's! Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero, "And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint Paul has reached, Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached." Noon strikes,—here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart! Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife; No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life. X

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But bless you, it's dear—it's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate. They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still—ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and sandals, And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow candles; One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of scandals.

412

Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife. Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life! Robert Browning

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413

Up At A Villa--- Down In The City AS DISTINGUISHED BY AN ITALIAN PERSON OF QUALITY.) Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there! Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast; While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast. Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull Just on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull, Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! ---I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool. But the city, oh the city---the square with the houses! Why? They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry; You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by; Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly. What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint grey olive-trees. Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns. 'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell. Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in her conch---fifty gazers do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of sash. VII. VI. V. IV. III. II. I.

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414

All the year at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like a death's lean lifted forefinger. Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix i' the corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,---I spare you the months of the fever and chill. Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin. By-and-by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth; Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath. At the post-office such a scene-picture---the new play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot. Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes, And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's! Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome and Cicero, ``And moreover,'' (the sonnet goes rhyming,) ``the skirts of Saint Paul has reached, ``Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached.'' Noon strikes,---here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart! _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-to-tootle_ the fife; No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life. X. But bless you, it's dear---it's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate. They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still---ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and sandals, And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow candles; One' he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of scandals: _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-te-tootle_ the fife. Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life! Robert Browning IX.

VIII.

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415

Up At A Villa&mdash; Down In The City (As Distinguished by an Italian Person of Quality) I Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there! II Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast; While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast. III Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull Just on a mountain's edge as bare as the creature's skull, Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! - I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool. IV But the city, oh the city&mdash;the square with the houses! Why? They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry! You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by: Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly. V What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint grey olive trees. VI Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns. 'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell. VII Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in her conch&mdash;fifty gazers do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of sash!

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416

VIII

All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like Death's lean lifted forefinger. Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in the corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,&mdash;I spare you the months of the fever and chill. IX Ere opening your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin. By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth; Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath. At the post-office such a scene-picture&mdash;the new play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot. Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes, And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's! Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero, "And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint Paul has reached, Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached." Noon strikes,&mdash;here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart! Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife; No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life. X But bless you, it's dear&mdash;it's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate. They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still&mdash;ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and sandals, And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow candles; One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of scandals. Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife. Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life! Robert Browning

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417

Up at a Villa--Down in the City Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least! There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast; While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast. Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull Just on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull, Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! --I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool.

But the city, oh the city--the square with the houses! Why? They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry; You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by; Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly.

What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint gray olive-trees. Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns. 'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.

Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs: in the shine such foambows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in her conch--fifty gazers do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of sash. All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like death's lean lifted forefinger. Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in the corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,--I spare you the months of the fever and chill. Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin. By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth; Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath. At the post-office such a scene-picture--the new play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot.

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Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes, And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's! Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and so, Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome and Cicero, "And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint Paul has reached, Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached." Noon strikes,--here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart! Bang-whang-whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife. No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life. But bless you, it's dear--it's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate. They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still--ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and sandals, And the penitents dressed in white shirts a-holding the yellow candles; One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles. And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of scandals: Bang-whang-whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife; Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life!

Robert Browning

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419

Verse-Making Was Least of My Virtues Verse-making was least of my virtues: I viewed with despair Wealth that never yet was but might be--all that verse-making were If the life would but lengthen to wish, let the mind be laid bare. So I said, "To do little is bad, to do nothing is worse"-And made verse. Love-making,--how simple a matter! No depths to explore, No heights in a life to ascend! No disheartening Before, No affrighting Hereafter,--love now will be love ever more. So I felt "To keep silence were folly:"--all language above, I made love. Robert Browning

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Waring Mr. Alfred Domett, C.M.G., author of Ranolf and Amohia, ``full of descriptions of New Zealand scenery.] I. I.

What's become of Waring Since he gave us all the slip, Chose land-travel or seafaring, Boots and chest or staff and scrip, Rather than pace up and down Any longer London town? Who'd have guessed it from his lip Or his brow's accustomed bearing, On the night he thus took ship Or started landward?---little caring For us, it seems, who supped together (Friends of his too, I remember) And walked home thro' the merry weather, The snowiest in all December. I left his arm that night myself For what's-his-name's, the new prose-poet Who wrote the book there, on the shelf--How, forsooth, was I to know it If Waring meant to glide away Like a ghost at break of day? Never looked he half so gay! He was prouder than the devil: How he must have cursed our revel! Ay and many other meetings, Indoor visits, outdoor greetings, As up and down he paced this London, With no work done, but great works undone, Where scarce twenty knew his name. Why not, then, have earlier spoken, Written, bustled? Who's to blame If your silence kept unbroken? ``True, but there were sundry jottings, ``Stray-leaves, fragments, blurts and blottings, ``Certain fixst steps were achieved ``Already which''---(is that your meaning?) ``Had well borne out whoe'er believed ``In more to come!'' But who goes gleaning Hedgeside chance-glades, while full-sheaved Stand cornfields by him? Pride, o'erweening III. II.

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Pride alone, puts forth such claims O'er the day's distinguished names. Meantime, how much I loved him, I find out now I've lost him. I who cared not if I moved him, Who could so carelessly accost him, Henceforth never shall get free Of his ghostly company, His eyes that just a little wink As deep I go into the merit Of this and that distinguished spirit--His cheeks' raised colour, soon to sink, As long I dwell on some stupendous And tremendous (Heaven defend us!) Monstr'-inform'-ingens-horrend-ous Demoniaco-seraphic Penman's latest piece of graphic. Nay, my very wrist grows warm With his dragging weight of arm. E'en so, swimmingly appears, Through one's after-supper musings, Some lost lady of old years With her beauteous vain endeavour And goodness unrepaid as ever; The face, accustomed to refusings, We, puppies that we were ... Oh never Surely, nice of conscience, scrupled Being aught like false, forsooth, to? Telling aught but honest truth to? What a sin, had we centupled Its possessor's grace and sweetness No! she heard in its completeness Truth, for truth's a weighty matter, And truth, at issue, we can't flatter! Well, 'tis done with; she's exempt From damning us thro' such a sally; And so she glides, as down a valley, Taking up with her contempt, Past our reach; and in, the flowers Shut her unregarded hours. Oh, could I have him back once more, This Waring, but one half-day more! Back, with the quiet face of yore, So hungry for acknowledgment Like mine! I'd fool him to his bent. Feed, should not he, to heart's content? V. IV.

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I'd say, ``to only have conceived, ``Planned your great works, apart from progress, ``Surpasses little works achieved!'' I'd lie so, I should be believed. I'd make such havoc of the claims Of the day's distinguished names To feast him with, as feasts an ogress Her feverish sharp-toothed gold-crowned child! Or as one feasts a creature rarely Captured here, unreconciled To capture; and completely gives its pettish humours license, barely Requiring that it lives. Ichabod, Ichabod, The glory is departed! Travels Waring East away? Who, of knowledge, by hearsay, Reports a man upstarted Somewhere as a god, Hordes grown European-hearted, Millions of the wild made tame On a sudden at his fame? In Vishnu-land what Avatar? Or who in Moscow, toward the Czar, With the demurest of footfalls Over the Kremlin's pavement bright With serpentine and syenite,*1 Steps, with five other Generals That simultaneously take snuff, For each to have pretext enough And kerchiefwise unfold his sash Which, softness' self, is yet the stuff To hold fast where a steel chain snaps, And leave the grand white neck no gash? Waring in Moscow, to those rough Cold northern natures born perhaps, Like the lambwhite maiden dear From the circle of mute kings Unable to repress the tear, Each as his sceptre down he flings, To Dian's fane at Taurica, Where now a captive priestess, she alway Mingles her tender grave Hellenic speech With theirs, tuned to the hailstone-beaten beach As pours some pigeon, from the myrrhy lands Rapt by the whirlblast to fierce Scythian strands Where breed the swallows, her melodious cry Amid their barbarous twitter! In Russia? Never! Spain were fitter! VI.

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Ay, most likely 'tis in Spain That we and Waring meet again Now, while he turns down that cool narrow lane Into the blackness, out of grave Madrid All fire and shine, abrupt as when there's slid Its stiff gold blazing pall From some black coffin-lid. Or, best of all, I love to think The leaving us was just a feint; Back here to London did he slink, And now works on without a wink Of sleep, and we are on the brink Of something great in fresco-pain: Some garret's ceiling, walls and floor, Up and down and o'er and o'er He splashes, as none splashed before Since great Caldera Polidore.*2 Or Music means this land of ours Some favour yet, to pity won By Purcell from his Rosy Bowers,--``Give me my so-long promised son, ``Let Waring end what I begun!'' Then down he creeps and out he steals Only when the night conceals His face; in Kent 'tis cherry-time, Or hops are picking: or at prime Of March he wanders as, too happy, Years ago when he was young, Some mild eve when woods grew sappy And the early moths had sprung To life from many a trembling sheath Woven the warm boughs beneath; While small birds said to themselves What should soon be actual song, And young gnats, by tens and twelves, Made as if they were the throng That crowd around and carry aloft The sound they have nursed, so sweet and pure, Out of a myriad noises soft, Into a tone that can endure Amid the noise of a July noon When all God's creatures crave their boon, All at once and all in tune, And get it, happy as Waring then, Having first within his ken What a man might do with men: And far too glad, in the even-glow, To mix with the world he meant to take Into his hand, he told you, so--And out of it his world to make, To contract and to expand

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As he shut or oped his hand. Oh Waring, what's to really be? A clear stage and a crowd to see! Some Garrick, say, out shall not he The heart of Hamlet's mystery pluck? Or, where most unclean beasts are rife, Some Junius---am I right?---shall tuck His sleeve, and forth with flaying-knife! Some Chatterton shall have the luck Of calling Rowley into life! Some one shall somehow run a muck With this old world for want of strife Sound asleep. Contrive, contrive To rouse us, Waring! Who's alive? Our men scarce seem in earnest now. Distinguished names!---but 'tis, somehow, As if they played at being names Still more distinguished, like the games Of children. Turn our sport to earnest With a visage of the sternest! Bring the real times back, confessed Still better than our very best! II.

``When I last saw Waring ...'' (How all turned to him who spoke! You saw Waring? Truth or joke? In land-travel or sea-faring?) ``We were sailing by Triest ``Where a day or two we harboured: ``A sunset was in the West, ``When, looking over the vessel's side, ``One of our company espied ``A sudden speck to larboard. ``And as a sea-duck flies and swims ``At once, so came the light craft up, ``With its sole lateen sail that trims ``And turns (the water round its rims ``Dancing, as round a sinking cup) ``And by us like a fish it curled, ``And drew itself up close beside, ``Its great sail on the instant furled, ``And o'er its thwarts a shrill voice cried, ``(A neck as bronzed as a Lascar's) `` `Buy wine of us, you English Brig? II.

I.

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`` `Or fruit, tobacco and cigars? `` `A pilot for you to Triest? `` `Without one, look you ne'er so big, `` `They'll never let you up the bay! `` `We natives should know best.' ``I turned, and `just those fellows' way,' ``Our captain said, `The 'long-shore thieves `` `Are laughing at us in their sleeves.' ``In truth, the boy leaned laughing back; ``And one, half-hidden by his side ``Under the furled sail, soon I spied, ``With great grass hat and kerchief black, ``Who looked up with his kingly throat, ``Said somewhat, while the other shook ``His hair back from his eyes to look ``Their longest at us; then the boat, ``I know not how, turned sharply round, ``Laying her whole side on the sea ``As a leaping fish does; from the lee ``Into the weather, cut somehow ``Her sparkling path beneath our bow ``And so went off, as with a bound, ``Into the rosy and golden half ``O' the sky, to overtake the sun ``And reach the shore, like the sea-calf ``Its singing cave; yet I caught one ``Glance ere away the boat quite passed, ``And neither time nor toil could mar ``Those features: so I saw the last ``Of Waring!''---You? Oh, never star Was lost here but it rose afar! Look East, where whole new thousands are! In Vishnu-land what Avatar? III.

*1 Egyptian granite. *2 Surnamed da Caravaggio. A pupil of Raphael. Robert Browning

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Why I Am a Liberal "Why?" Because all I haply can and do, All that I am now, all I hope to be,-Whence comes it save from fortune setting free Body and soul the purpose to pursue, God traced for both? If fetters, not a few, Of prejudice, convention, fall from me, These shall I bid men--each in his degree Also God-guided--bear, and gayly, too? But little do or can the best of us: That little is achieved through Liberty. Who, then, dares hold, emancipated thus, His fellow shall continue bound? Not I, Who live, love, labour freely, nor discuss A brother's right to freedom. That is "Why." Robert Browning

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427

Women And Roses I. I dream of a red-rose tree. And which of its roses three Is the dearest rose to me? Round and round, like a dance of snow In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go Floating the women faded for ages, Sculptured in stone, on the poet's pages. Then follow women fresh and gay, Living and loving and loved to-day. Last, in the rear, flee the multitude of maidens, Beauties yet unborn. And all, to one cadence, They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose, thy term is reached, Thy leaf hangs loose and bleached: Bees pass it unimpeached. Stay then, stoop, since I cannot climb, You, great shapes of the antique time! How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you, Break my heart at your feet to please you? Oh, to possess and be possessed! Hearts that beat 'neath each pallid breast! Once but of love, the poesy, the passion, Drink but once and die!---In vain, the same fashion, They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose, thy joy's undimmed, Thy cup is ruby-rimmed, Thy cup's heart nectar-brimmed. Deep, as drops from a statue's plinth The bee sucked in by the hyacinth, So will I bury me while burning, Quench like him at a plunge my yearning, Eyes in your eyes, lips on your lips! Fold me fast where the cincture slips, Prison all my soul in eternities of pleasure, Girdle me for once! But no---the old measure, VI. V. IV. III. II.

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They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose without a thorn, Thy bud's the babe unborn: First streak of a new morn. Wings, lend wings for the cold, the clear! What is far conquers what is near. Roses will bloom nor want beholders, Sprung from the dust where our flesh moulders. What shall arrive with the cycle's change? A novel grace and a beauty strange. I will make an Eve, be the artist that began her, Shaped her to his mind!---Alas! in like manner They circle their rose on my rose tree. Robert Browning VIII. VII.

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You'll Love Me Yet You'll love me yet!—and I can tarry Your love's protracted growing: June reared that bunch of flowers you carry From seeds of April's sowing. I plant a heartful now: some seed At least is sure to strike, And yield—what you'll not pluck indeed, Not love, but, may be, like!

You'll look at least on love's remains, A grave's one violet: Your look?—that pays a thousand pains. What's death?—You'll love me yet! Robert Browning

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You'll love me yet!&mdash;and I can tarry You'll love me yet!&mdash;and I can tarry Your love's protracted growing: June reared that bunch of flowers you carry From seeds of April's sowing.

I plant a heartful now: some seed At least is sure to strike, And yield&mdash;what you'll not pluck indeed, Not love, but, may be, like!

You'll look at least on love's remains, A grave's one violet: Your look?&mdash;that pays a thousand pains. What's death?&mdash;You'll love me yet! Robert Browning

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431

Youth and Art 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 It once might have been, once only: We lodged in a street together, You, a sparrow on the housetop lonely, I, a lone she-bird of his feather.

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

My business was song, song, song; I chirped, cheeped, trilled and twittered, 'Kate Brown's on the boards ere long, And Grisi's existence embittered!' I earned no more by a warble Than you by a sketch in plaster; You wanted a piece of marble, I needed a music-master.

Your trade was with sticks and clay, You thumbed, thrust, patted and polished, Then laughed 'They will see some day Smith made, and Gibson demolished.'

We studied hard in our styles, Chipped each at a crust like Hindoos, For air looked out on the tiles, For fun watched each other's windows.

You lounged, like a boy of the South, Cap and blouse--nay, a bit of beard too; Or you got it, rubbing your mouth With fingers the clay adhered to. And I--soon managed to find Weak points in the flower-fence facing, Was forced to put up a blind And be safe in my corset-lacing. No harm! It was not my fault If you never turned your eye's tail up As I shook upon E in alt, Or ran the chromatic scale up: For spring bade the sparrows pair, And the boys and girls gave guesses, And stalls in our street looked rare With bulrush and watercresses. Why did not you pinch a flower In a pellet of clay and fling it? Why did not I put a power Of thanks in a look, or sing it?

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I did look, sharp as a lynx, (And yet the memory rankles,)

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43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68

When models arrived, some minx Tripped up-stairs, she and her ankles. But I think I gave you as good! 'That foreign fellow,--who can know How she pays, in a playful mood, For his tuning her that piano?'

Could you say so, and never say 'Suppose we join hands and fortunes, And I fetch her from over the way, Her, piano, and long tunes and short tunes?' No, no: you would not be rash, Nor I rasher and something over: You've to settle yet Gibson's hash, And Grisi yet lives in clover.

But you meet the Prince at the Board, I'm queen myself at bals-paré, I've married a rich old lord, And you're dubbed knight and an R.A.

Each life unfulfilled, you see; It hangs still, patchy and scrappy: We have not sighed deep, laughed free, Starved, feasted, despaired,--been happy. And nobody calls you a dunce, And people suppose me clever: This could but have happened once, And we missed it, lost it for ever.

Robert Browning

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